The main event at the Stadium of Light this Saturday is a top of the table clash between Sunderland and Luton Town, kick-off 3pm.
Going head-to-head in a seismic fixture in the race for promotion to the Sky Bet Championship, the Black Cats’ unbeaten home league form will be put on the line as The Hatters come to town.
Jack Ross has called for his players to show a more ruthless side to their game, after failing to score more than once in their previous five domestic matches.
The Lads have also fallen behind in two of their last three league home matches at the Stadium of Light, dropping points to Shrewsbury Town in their final game of 2018.
However, sitting third with a game in hand over Luton, three points in the Black Cats’ first home league game of 2019 would see them move into second and put them in the driving seat once more for an automatic promotion place.
Luton, who are currently on their best run in the Football League of 13 games unbeaten, have been dealt a blow in their preparations for Saturday’s fixture, losing boss Nathan Jones who moved to Stoke City to replace the departed Gary Rowett.
That’s seen Sunderland-born Mick Harford put in temporary charge of The Hatters for the trip to the north east, with them able to boast an impressive 10 game unbeaten run on the road.
Duncan Watmore will be unavailable for Saturday’s match after picking up a groin injury in Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy win over Newcastle United under-21s. Bryan Oviedo and Adam Matthews returned to training on Thursday, but Ross is yet to make a decision on whether or not the duo will feature.
Luton, meanwhile, will be without stopper Marek Stech and Harry Cornick through injury. Dan Potts is fit after a groin injury, but Glen Rea is out for the season after suffering knee ligament damage and Jorge Grant has returned to Nottingham Forest after his loan was terminated. However, midfielder George Thorne should be in the squad after signing on loan from Derby.
The Black Cats are unbeaten in their last six league meetings with Luton, winning four and drawing the other two. As for Luton’s luck on Wearside, they are winless since September 1973 – failing to win any of their last 13 visits.
DON’T MISS THE MAIN EVENT
Under 16s can cheer on the team for just £1 in a special ‘Kids for a Quid’ ticket offer, which must be purchased alongside a full-priced adult ticket. The offer is also applicable to adult season card holders.
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.