Sunderland take on Oldham Athletic this evening in the first knockout round of the 2021/22 Papa John’s Trophy.
After running out winners of their group, the Black Cats were gifted with a home draw in the first knockout round. League Two side Oldham Athletic will make the trip up north in an attempt to beat the holders of this competition.
Sunderland will be without Dennis Cirkin, Niall Huggins and Denver Hume as all the natural full-backs are still recovering from various injuries.
New on the list are Luke O’Nien who will need surgery on his shoulder which will keep him out for up to nine months and Aiden McGeady who is being treated for a recurring ankle problem.
Jordan Willis remains out from his patella rupture last February.
Oldham currently sit 23rd in League Two and with only one win in their past eight league outings they come into this fixture huge underdogs. Their manager Keith Curle will in no doubt be prioritising the league when thinking about this game and won’t hesitate to rest some of their key players.
Sunderland won this competition earlier this year when they beat Tranmere Rovers 1-0. The Wearsiders have also suffered final heartbreak against Portsmouth back in 2019 and will be hoping to keep the winning mentality which has seen them pick up seven points from a possible nine last week.
Some Sunderland fans are still yet to be convinced by the previous few fixtures and this game would be a good one to make their stamp not only on this competition, but also the league. We think this should be comfortable for the home side.
Score prediction: Sunderland 3-0 Oldham Athletic