Sunderland are back on home turf this Saturday in Sky Bet League One action, with a chance to move back into the top two of the table – albeit in the shape of a tough test against Portsmouth (KO 3pm).
Lee Johnson’s men will not only aim to return to a winning note in front of what is expected to be another bumper crowd on both sides, but victory would also avenge October’s heavy defeat at a sodden Fratton Park.
Johnson claimed in Wednesday’s press conference that whilst a few minor contact knocks were sustained during this week’s training, everyone who featured in last weekend’s draw at Accrington Stanley should once again be in the frame for Saturday.
Danny Batth could be in line for a Wearside debut against Pompey after the completion of his signing on Tuesday, Carl Winchester is in line to return from his one-match suspension, and Leon Dajaku has returned from his bout of Covid-19.
Corry Evans could be in the frame once more after missing last weekend with concussion suffered a fortnight ago at Wycombe Wanderers. Alex Pritchard and Bailey Wright were among those to pick up knocks in training this week, but the Head Coach is confident they will remain in contention.
Luke O’Nien and Aiden McGeady remain sidelined, but the duo this week returned to the training pitch for light ball work.
Some 12 years on from the foreseeable finale of top-flight meetings between Sunderland and Portsmouth, the south coast’s most successful club have returned for regular meetings with the Lads in recent years.
Now into their fifth straight season at League One level, Pompey hold established common ambitions with the Lads and are looking to eventually break through to Championship level once more following years of financial turmoil – only turning around after the beginning of a spell as a fan-owned club.
Danny Cowley’s side currently sit ninth in the division after 25 matches played – most recently a midweek goalless draw at AFC Wimbledon – and are five points short of the top six. Recent recruits Hayden Carter and Tyler Walker will aim to bolster Cowley’s squad ahead of the coming months.
Around the grounds
Like the Black Cats, League One’s current top two of Rotherham and Wigan are also on home soil on Saturday afternoon, taking on Cheltenham and Gillingham respectively. Among a full 24-team schedule of Saturday 3pm kick-offs, Wycombe head to Morecambe whilst MK Dons play host to Doncaster. Elsewhere, Ipswich take on Accrington, Charlton host Fleetwood and Plymouth face off with Lincoln.
Tickets & coverage
Tickets for Sunderland’s weekend match with Portsmouth remain available on the club’s e-ticketing site by clicking here. Please note Covid-19 checks will be in place – proof of at least two vaccinations or a negative PCR/lateral flow test taken within 48 hours of kick-off will be required.
Due to EFL broadcast restrictions, SAFSee streaming of Saturday’s game will not be available to UK-based supporters, though overseas subscribers can purchase a streaming pass here at a cost of £10. Audio commentary with Frankie Francis and Danny Collins will be available.