After what seems like an eternity and three straight away matches, Sunderland return to home soil tomorrow afternoon as Southend United make the long journey north.
Josh Maja was rested during the midweek victory at Doncaster and he will be most likely be back in the side for Saturdays match. whether or not he is partnered by Jerome Sinclair remains to be seen. A straight 4-4-2 would give the Black Cats to have a lot of fire power going forward. Bryan Oviedo is fit to return to the first team, however given the form of Reece James it’s unlikely he’ll be in the starting eleven. Back to back clean sheets suggest that Jack Ross might not be too keen to change any of his back four at the moment if he doesn’t have to.
Max Power will be serving the last of his three-match ban, so George Honeyman could take his place alongside Lee Cattermole in what would be a four-man Sunderland midfield. The energetic due of Lyndon Gooch and Chris Maguire will set up out wide for the hosts as they aim to make it four wins in a row.
Sunderland likely line-up:
Matthews Baldwin Flanagan James
Gooch Honeyman Cattermole Maguire
The Black Cats are really starting to get into the swing of things in League One, its been a long time since they last won three away games on the bounce. Southend will provide a tricky opposition looking at their away record so far this season. Four wins from seven trips so far has made the Shrimpers a tough side to welcome on home turf, they will be going to the Stadium of Light off the back of a convincing 3-0 win over Walsall. Tom Hopper and Simon Cox have 13 goals between them this season making them the most dangerous players for Sunderland to look out for at the weekend. Former Sunderland defender Michael Turner could make an appearance in his return to Wearside, the centre half came off the bench in their midweek victory. All in red and white will be hoping he and his team mates will return home empty handed.
Sunderland haven’t exactly been free-scoring in their rich run of victories, but as long as their defence continues to hold firm then the Black Cats won’t need to be full of goals. Southend have also enjoyed a good defensive record, especially on the road; only shipping eight in seven away trips.
These two tight defences will make for a cagey encounter on Saturday, but one which the hosts will just about edge.
Prediction: Sunderland AFC 2-1 Southend United