Having had no game for seven days, Sunderland will kick start a run of four matches in 10 days this weekend when they travel to Oxford United.
Taking on the U’s at the Kassam Stadium this Saturday, kick-off 3pm, Jack Ross’ side know three points are essential if they are to keep tabs on the top two in League One.
Currently three points off the pace behind Barnsley in second and nine off leaders Luton Town, the Black Cats know, while they’ve got three games in hand on latter, that they can’t afford to drop many points over the coming schedule.
Facing Oxford first, Sunderland will return to the Stadium of Light next Tuesday ahead of three home matches against Blackpool, Accrington Stanley and Gillingham.
Aiden McGeady scored his seventh of the season last Saturday as the Black Cats put a three-game drawing streak behind them to defeat bottom club AFC Wimbledon.
And while the lads have dropped points and been forced to settle for draws in recent times, it’s worth noting that no team has conceded fewer goals (26) than Sunderland in the league this season.
Oxford, meanwhile, are fighting their own battle at the opposite end of the table and have taken six points from their previous four league games.
A win over promotion-hopefuls Portsmouth was then followed by another morale-boosting draw against Barnsley, helping the U’s move out of the bottom three and to within three points of Walsall in 17th.
Deadine Day signing Will Grigg looks set to make his debut for Sunderland after coming through a positive week's training at the Academy of Light.
The Northern Ireland international joined the Black Cats from Wigan Athletic with a suspected ankle injury, however, progress has been good and Grigg looks set for his first outing this weekend.
Marcus Browne is in contention for a return to the Oxford United squad to face Sunderland.
But there is a new injury doubt over Mark Sykes, following a collision with the woodwork in training earlier this week.
DON’T MISS A KICK
Sunderland will be backed by just under 2,000 fans for Saturday’s trip to Oxford.
Streaming passes are available for overseas fans.
BBC Radio Newcastle’s Nick Barnes will be broadcasting live right here on safc.com from 2pm.
As ever, there will be comprehensive coverage across our digital channels including safc.com’s matchday blog and live updates on Twitter via @SunderlandAFC.