Boss sizes up Palace test

by Stuart Vose

Di Canio on Selhurst trip, Holloway and Wickham.

Paolo Di Canio is targeting a first three-point haul of the season on the road after narrowly missing out last time around.

Sunderland were denied an away win by a late goal at Southampton last Saturday and head south again this weekend, this time to face newly-promoted Crystal Palace.

Last season's Championship play-off winners have suffered narrow defeats in each of their first two league games, with Sunderland picking up a point during the same spell.

“Crystal Palace will be difficult away from home, for sure,” Di Canio said. “We know the environment we are going to find there.

“They have athleticism, quality – a typical British team. It is always important to win and it would be fantastic to get that first win in the league.”

Tomorrow's game will pit Di Canio against Palace boss Ian Holloway, who guided the Eagles to promotion last season after a stint with Blackpool.

And the Italian says he's a fan of Holloway, who is a manager he's studied for a while.

“I like him – I have followed his history from Bristol Rovers,” Di Canio explained.

“I saw Crystal Palace play last season and they did very well. They lost a few games at the end of the season but were capable of producing fantastic energy and quality at the end.

“In my opinion the manager's character is in that squad. I like him; he is skilled in a tactical way – a very good manager.”

Meanwhile Di Canio has seen his attacking options ramped up with Steven Fletcher back in the squad for Saturday's game in the capital.

Fellow frontman Jozy Altidore scored his first goal for Sunderland against MK Dons in midweek, while substitute Connor Wickham netted twice in the same match.

And Di Canio has been pleased with the young frontman's application in training as he ponders his team selection ahead of the game at Selhurst Park.

“[Connor] did very well not only in the game [against MK Dons], which determines if he has a chance to play in the next game,” he said. “I am happy with him.

“His attitude has changed – not a bit, a lot. This is why he scored the goals, as a consequence of what he has done in training sessions in the last 10 days.

“He has reduced the gap between him and others with more experience. He can be every time in contention to be selected in the starting eleven, so we will see.”