Martin O'Neill

Preview: MK Dons v Sunderland

by Stuart Vose

We look ahead to tonight's cup clash.

Sunderland will make their first-ever visit to Stadium:MK tonight as they face Milton Keynes Dons in the third round of the Capital One Cup.

The Black Cats beat Morecambe at the Stadium of Light last month and have made an unbeaten start to the season, having also notched four successive league draws.

Boss Martin O’Neill is expecting to make a number of changes due to injuries and has warned his squad players to be ready for action if required.

His side face a Dons outfit who are going well in Npower League One having been installed as one of the early promotion favourites.

Manager Karl Robinson was just 29 when he was handed the job in May 2010, making him the youngest manager in the Football League.

The Dons finished fifth last season, missing out on promotion in the play-offs, and Robinson has been tasked with securing elevation to the Championship this time around.

They have made a good start to the current campaign and currently sit fourth in the third tier following a thumping 4-1 away win at Bury over the weekend.

Robinson’s men have suffered only two league defeats so far – both away from home – and have seen off Cheltenham and Blackburn to set up their cup clash with Sunderland.

The Dons boss has gone for experience in an attempt to add some steel and added both Alan Smith and Jimmy Bullard during the summer. The latter is not expected to be available for tonight’s game.

Dean Bowditch and Luke Chadwick currently share the mantle of leading goalscorer with four goals apiece, although Bowditch added three of those at Bury last weekend.

Tonight will be the first time Sunderland have faced MK Dons since the old Wimbledon were renamed, although they have played at the old National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes while the club were still called Wimbledon.

The Black Cats did the double over Wimbledon during the 2003-04 season, winning 2-1 both home and away. Altogether, Sunderland have won each of the last three games between the two clubs, with a top-flight clash in April 2000 also ending in a 2-1 victory.

Altogether, the clubs have met on 13 occasions, with Sunderland winning seven times to the Dons’ four. A further two games have ended all square.