Sunderland return to league action after being knocked out of the FA Cup in midweek as strugglers Bristol Rovers make the long trip north to Wearside. Duncan Watmore and Lee Cattermole got valuable game time in mid-week, with the latter in contention to start on Saturday afternoon.
Lee Cattermole hasn’t made a league appearance since the end of October and it’s fair to say he’s been missed in the Sunderland midfield. With Max Power seemingly going about his business much more quietly these days, there could be the re-establishment of a central pairing not seen for some weeks. Power and Cattermole, if the latter is to be thrown into the first team this soon after injury, will make up the base of the midfield; sitting in front of the back four. What seems more likely, however, is that George Honeyman will partner up with Power. The games are coming thick and fast for Sunderland, Jack Ross will know there isn’t a rush to bring back Sunderland’s longest serving player.
The attacking trio of Chris Maguire, Lyndon Gooch and Aiden McGeady have chipped in 18 goals and 14 assists for their side; making them one of the most potent trios in the division. On their day they take some stopping and against an out of form Rovers side their rich run of form will have the perfect chance to carry on. Josh Maja has been talked about for more than just his goals in recent weeks. Sunderland’s 11 goal top scorer is yet to sign a new contract, supporters everywhere will be hoping he does so sooner rather than later.
Sunderland likely line-up:
Matthews Baldwin Flanagan James
Gooch McGeady Maguire
Saturdays visitors parted company with manager Darrell Clarke, which could be a help or a hinderance to the Gas. They will be hoping for the former, its just one win in six for the west country side. their away form this season isn’t great either, nine points from a possible 30 on the road will never set the world alight.
Ollie Clarke tops the scoring charts for the visitors, but his four goals highlights how Rovers have struggled to find the back of the net this season. Despite the multitude of goals, Sunderland are prone to a mistake or two at the back, so the visitors should get some opportunities tomorrow. However, the free scoring Mackems should be too strong.
Prediction: Sunderland AFC 3-1 Bristol Rovers