Sunderland will continue their Sky Bet Championship campaign on Saturday when they make the long journey to Cardiff City, KO 12.30pm.
Here’s your all you need to know guide ahead of the match…
The Black Cats head to the Cardiff City stadium with a new addition to their ranks. Jake Clarke-Salter became Chris Coleman’s first addition of the January transfer window on Monday, signing on loan until the end of the season. While the defender saw his spell at Bristol Rovers cut short due to injury, 2017 proved to be a memorable year for the youngster after he lifted the U20s World Cup with England. However, Clarke-Salter is attempting to go one better this year as he looks to enjoy further success at club level, and he is expected to go straight into the Black Cats’ starting XI on Saturday.
Two players set to miss the trip to south wales are Darron Gibson and Aiden McGeady. The former has undergone surgery on a groin injury, and the Black Cats boss confirmed the news at his pre-Cardiff City press conference on Friday morning, revealing the midfielder went under the knife after tests revealed the muscle had torn away from the bone. Gibson is expected to out between eight to 12 weeks, and it comes as a bitter blow after the Republic of Ireland midfielder became a key member of the starting XI following Coleman’s arrival. Meanwhile, McGeady is also expected to miss Saturday’s game in south wales through injury.
Cardiff’s latest signing Yanic Wildschut will be available for selection this weekend while midfielder Craig Bryson and winger Kadeem Harris are unlikely to feature. Lee Peltier, Matthew Connolly and Aron Gunnarsson are out.
THE FORM GUIDE
Neither Sunderland or Cardiff are going into this weekend’s match on the back of much form. For Neil Warnock’s side, the challenge is to continue their promotion push which has dwindled of late having lost their last four league matches. However, victory over Sunderland – a result which would see the Bluebirds do the double over the Black Cats for the first time since the 1970/71 season – could see Warnock’s team move up into the automatic play-off places again. Sunderland, meanwhile head to south wales with two wins, two defeats and two defeats in their previous six Sky Bet Championship matches. While the Black Cats have secured eight points in that time, it has coincided with teams around them finding form and as a result the lads remain at the foot of the table, two points adrift of safety.
TIME TO CLIMB
Despite suffering three defeats in four matches – in all competitions – Coleman’s side can head to south wales with plenty of heart. Needing to make up a “deficit”, as the boss called it, of two points – one win can change everything once again at the foot of the Sky Bet Championship. And the Black Cats can be buoyed by the history books, as they have won two of their last three away matches at Cardiff – drawing the other. Coleman’s troops have also managed to keep clean sheets in three of their last four away league games, but haven’t won back-to-back away league matches without conceding since March 2007, when they defeated Cardiff City 1-0 courtesy of a Ross Wallace goal.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
While the match is a 12.30 kick-off, that hasn’t stopped our fans making the 700-mile round trip to Cardiff. More than 1,000 Sunderland fans are expected to descend on the Cardiff City Stadium, but if you aren’t able to attend we will be providing comprehensive coverage of all the action as it happens across our digital channels.
Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett will be in the commentary booth from 11.30pm, with minute-by-minute analysis available right here and across social media from Twitter to Instagram.