Sunderland v Bolton preview

by Stuart Vose

Get the inside track ahead of tonight’s action.

Sunderland and Bolton meet in the FA Cup with Budweiser for the ninth time tonight.

The third round tie heads back to the Stadium of Light following a 2-2 draw at the Reebok Stadium earlier this month.

Wanderers looked favourites to go through, assuming a 2-0 lead before Connor Wickham and Craig Gardner scored to secure a draw in front of more than 5,000 travelling fans.

And so the sides will go again tonight with Sunderland unbeaten in this fixture on the last 10 occasions.

It’s almost 15 years to the day since Sunderland last played Bolton in an FA Cup replay (January 14, 2003).

Sunderland prevailed on that occasion at the Stadium of Light, winning 2-0 courtesy of extra-time goals from Julio Arca and Michael Proctor. The original tie had ended 1-1.

Now Martin O’Neill will be hoping for a positive outcome tonight with the winners set to face Everton in the fourth round.

The Black Cats followed up the draw in Lancashire with a comfortable 3-0 win over West Ham on Wearside.

Bolton, meanwhile, secured a 1-1 home draw with Millwall, leaving the Trotters 16th in the Npower Championship with 33 points from 27 games – 10 points off the play-off pace.

Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill has admitted he may have to make changes due to knocks, though he refrained from revealing which players were suffering.

But he will definitely be without new signings Alfred N’Diaye and Kader Mangane, both of whom are ineligible.

Meanwhile Bolton boss Dougie Freedman will be without Mark Davies, Matt Mills and David Wheater, while striker Tom Eaves is cup-tied.

Stuart Holden and Josh Vela could return for the visitors.