Sunderland embark on their mammoth 700-mile round-trip to Portsmouth knowing the job is far from done as they bid to keep their promotion hopes alive.
Taking with them their slender 1-0 advantage - thanks to Chris Maguire’s second-half volley on Saturday - to Fratton Park, the Black Cats will be roared on by 2,000 travelling red and white fans as they look to get themselves over the line in tonight’s Play-Off second leg.
Saturday’s first leg result was a big one. While it’s given the Black Cats the advantage at the midway point of the two-legged tie, psychologically the Lads have done what they’ve what they’ve previously failed to in their four meeting against Pompey this term – and that was to get one over them.
However, with Fratton Park sold out for tonight’s match, kick-off 7:45pm, Ross knows his side are doing to have to deal with a lot more than just a Pompey onslaught if they are to book their place in next Sunday’s Wembley final.
A big boost going into the return leg is the news that Alim Ozturk is available once more after his red card was overturned on Monday.
Ozturk was dismissed in the second 45 for a challenge on Pompey skipper Gareth Evans, however, following a successful appeal the Turkish defender can play on the south coast.
There are concerns still surrounding Aiden McGeady, though. The winger looked set to start his first game in three on Saturday after missing Fleetwood Town and Southend United away.
However, McGeady was forced to withdraw before kick-off and speaking at Tuesday’s press conference the manager admitted the 33-year-old’s situation remains the same.
Duncan Watmore, however, could feature for the first time since March. The winger, who picked up an ankle ligaments injury against Wycombe Wanderers, was expected to miss the remainder of the season.
However, due to Sunderland’s involvement in the Play-Offs and his recovery taking less time than planned, he is back in training and working towards playing some part in the second leg and potentially whatever, if anything, lies ahead this season…
Portsmouth, meanwhile, haven’t minced their pre-match words ahead of tonight’s game. Skipper Evans has stated Pompey plan to ‘batter’ the Black Cats in their own back yard as they look to overturn the 1-0 deficit.
They will, of course, draw on their victory over Sunderland in December as inspiration having defeated them 3-1 back in December 2018.
That day, Glenn Loovens’ red card proved to be the turning point as the game was evenly poised prior to that. From there, Portsmouth took full advantage of their man advantage, scoring twice inside seven second-half minutes before later netting a third after Luke O’Nien had give the lads hope.
Portsmouth hope to have defender Lee Brown and Brett Pitman available this evening. The pair missed the first-leg defeat on Saturday, with Brown struggling with an Achilles injury while Pitman’s hamstring has been causing him issues.
DON’T MISS A SECOND OF TONIGHT’S ACTION
Tickets for the away end are no longer available.
Tonight’s game will not be available by our usual streaming service.
As ever, BBC Radio Newcastle’s Nick Barnes will be broadcasting live right here on safc.com from 7pm.
There will also be comprehensive coverage across our digital channels including safc.com’s matchday blog and live updates on Twitter via @SunderlandAFC.