After a last gasp goal secured a point on Saturday, Sunderland return to home soil to face fellow promotion hopefuls Barnsley on Tuesday night.
The black cats received a boost earlier today as Max Powers sending off at the Bescot Stadium on Saturday was overturned, meaning that the lo-loan Wigan midfielder avoids a hefty five match ban. This will almost certainly see him start at the Stadium of Light. Aiden McGeady and Lyndon Gooch impressed in the midfield in more ways than just scoring the goals, they will be supported by captain George Honeyman who also put in a good shift.
Luke O’Nien was superb coming off the bench on Saturday and this may well put him in contention for a starting place, but this would make for a tough task for Jack Ross as to who was left out. There’s no doubt he deserves a to be in the starting eleven, but the only real chance of this happening is if a midfield five is chosen, something which I can’t imagine Ross doing. His chance in the first team will surely come soon, however.
Duncan Watmore made a long-awaited return for the under 23s side on Monday meaning that a return to the first team is surely not a million miles away now, adding to the fire power at Jack Ross’ disposal.
Sunderland likely line-up:
Matthews Baldwin Flanagan James
Gooch McGeady Oviedo
The visit of Barnsley will be one of the toughest tests this season so far for Sunderland. It will help Ross to gauge how far his side have come this season when they come up against a side well accustomed to a League One promotion push.
All of the stats make for an interesting clash tomorrow night. The two sides have scored a combined 77 goals this season and conceded just 30. Sunderland are unbeaten at home so far this season but Barnsley have found the back of the net 18 times on their travels, making them the best candidates so far to inflict a first Stadium of Light defeat on Sunderland this campaign.
Kieffer Moore is out in front on the scoring charts for Barnsley, his ten goals mean that he’ll be going head to head with another top marksman in the form of Josh Maja. Finding the back of the net hasn’t been a problem for either side and this will be the case when they meet tomorrow night.
Prediction: Sunderland AFC 3-2 Barnsley