Sunderland host Stoke City in the Championship this afternoon.
The Black Cats have slipped to 9th in the table following their three most recent results. Back-to-back defeats to Rotherham United and Coventry City tell the story of Sunderland as of late with a congested fixture calendar, a big injury list and a lack of squad depth all taking its toll.
Alex Neil will be hoping to get one over on his former side this afternoon and after two 1-0 defeats midweek and last weekend, the Scot will be desperate to return to winning ways.
Sunderland team news
Lynden Gooch has returned to non-contact training following his injury back in January. However, the American isn’t expected to be back in contention until next weekend’s trip to Norwich City.
Dennis Cirkin is still feeling the after effects of concussion following the late winner he scored against Millwall a month ago. The club are staying cautious with his progress and he won’t feature here.
Elsewhere, Elliot Embleton, Ross Stewart and Corry Evans remain out with longer-term injuries with all three unlikely to feature again this season.
Tony Mowbray needs to find a way to get Alex Pritchard into his side and that does mean one star performer would need to drop to the bench unless Joe Gelhardt made way, which seems unlikely. Amad Diallo looked jaded last weekend and despite his late goal, a rest may do him the world of good.
Sunderland arguably need to be stronger down the middle and that demand could see Pierre Ekwah or Abdoullah Ba come into the XI, however given the fact neither have featured much recently, it seems unlikely Mowbray will put either in this weekend.
The game kicks off at 3pm this afternoon.