Let's start with the good stuff - Full confirmed line up
McLaughlin, Baldwin, Flanagan, Oviedo, O'Nien, Leadbitter, McGeouch, Honeyman, Morgan, Wyke, Grigg
Bench: Ruiter, Hume, Ozturk, Power, Dunne, Sterling, Kimipioka.
Jack Ross is urging his players to take advantage of their games in hand on their promotion rivals, which sees the Black Cats within a point of moving ahead of Barnsley and into the second automatic promotion spot.
“When we looked at the other teams with points on the board, for me they are in a better position,
“Irrespective of the number of games you have to earn points and those teams had done that.
“What we have done now is get ourselves in a good position and we have this advantage now in terms of having games to play.
“But it is only an advantage if we go and win. Tuesday evening is big for us. It becomes our most important game of the season.
He continued by highlighting the unique mindset behind a late-season promotion push...every game is the biggest game.
“It sounds clichéd, but it is the truth. Wednesday was our biggest game of the season, then it was Saturday, then it was Tuesday.
“That has got to be our mind-set until we get to the stage where we have achieved what we want and we have games to spare,”
“The mentality of the group has to be like that, and I have no concerns as to where they are at. I think the whole squad have bought into that.
“I think they are excited about these final four weeks of the season. I don't sense any nervousness; it is more an anticipation of the games and relishing the challenge that they have.”
Nigel Clough hopes his players will relax and enjoy playing in a big stadium to produce a similar performance to the one which saw them defeat Barnsley on Saturday. Clough thinks it’s unlikely his side will find themselves in the play-off spots come the end of the season but thinks this means the pressure is all on Sunderland.
“I think it’s just one to go and enjoy. It’s the biggest stadium in the league by a mile so we want to just go there and play. We are in a position where we can go and do that and relax. We can enjoy it and give everything with a similar kind of performance to Barnsley on Saturday.”
“The gap is a bit too big with Doncaster winning the last three games, but we will keep going and see. All we can do is everything we can to win our last six games and see what happens.”
“With two games in hand people will be looking at them to win.
“We are polar opposites Sunderland and ourselves. There is a big, big difference which is reflected across crowds, wage bills and everything.
“There are only teams like Accrington, Rochdale and Wimbledon who are like ourselves and it’s a big challenge to keep the club competitive and it’s quite remarkable how the chairman has done it over so many years.”
What could go down?
Burton are enjoying their football at the minute but no one in the Brewers team is enjoying it as much as Liam Boyce. He’s found some excellent form and is very much playing with confidence and swagger, scoring and creating goals in the Barnsley game alone. Burton will try to play with pace out wide to feed Boyce when he gets into dangerous areas around the Sunderland box, and this will prove a stern test for the Baldwin/Flanagan partnership.
Sunderland seem to be playing rather harmoniously at the moment. The team just seems to work well together, with the additions of McGeouch and Wyke improving the play at both ends of the pitch. Movement, trickery, skill and a tenacious never-say die attitude are all traits to be feared and this Black Cats team is chock full of them, let’s hope that the good form from the Accrington and Rochdale games continues and Jack Ross can mount a full charge for the ultimate goal of promotion back to the Championship.
Sunderland should avenge their recent defeats and finally put Burton to bed after failing too on their last two attempts. Rather than relegation being on the line its promotion this time, so I expect Sunderland to really play with confidence and show the fans that they’re up to the task. It’s been nearly three weeks since they’ve enjoyed a home game so naturally, they should try to entertain. I would love Wyke to get another goal.
2-0 Sunderland Ha’way the Lads!