Sunderland v Aston Villa preview
Last Updated: 05/03/18 8:04pm
Defender Jake Clarke-Salter will be missing once again as Sunderland attempt to haul themselves from the foot of the Sky Bet Championship table against promotion-chasing Aston Villa.
Clarke-Salter, on loan at the Stadium of Light from Chelsea, serves the second instalment of a three-match ban following his dismissal against Middlesbrough last month. Midfielder Ovie Ejaria returned from a thigh problem at Millwall on Saturday, but Kazenga LuaLua missed out with an ankle injury and will hope to be available this time around.
Manager Chris Coleman, who will once again be without Paddy McNair (groin), made six changes at the weekend as Jason Steele, Tyias Browning, Ejaria, Aiden McGeady, Callum McManaman and Ashley Fletcher all returned to the starting line-up.
Villa boss Steve Bruce is keeping his fingers crossed over midfielder Jack Grealish as he prepares for his return to Wearside. Grealish has not played since damaging a calf muscle during the 2-0 derby victory over Birmingham on February 11, but has made good progress and is close to a return.
On-loan Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe has been struggling with a hamstring strain, but could also make the squad. However, Bruce has a doubt over Alan Hutton, who suffered a hamstring injury in the 4-2 win at Sheffield Wednesday last time out.
These sides haven't met at Sunderland outside the top-flight since October 1974 - a goalless draw at Roker Park.
Aston Villa haven't lost back-to-back away league games against the Black Cats since October 1999, losing their most recent visit 3-1 in the Premier League in January 2016.
Since the start of last season, only Chesterfield (47) have lost more league matches in the top four tiers of English football than Sunderland (43).
Robert Snodgrass has had a hand in eight Championship goals in 2018 (4 goals, 4 assists) - only Ryan Sessegnon has been involved in more (10).
Chris Coleman has never beaten Aston Villa as a manager (P9 W0 D5 L4), with this his first home meeting with the Villans since March 2007 as Fulham boss.
Steve Bruce, meanwhile, has lost one of his last 15 matches against Sunderland in all competitions (W10 D4), a 2-0 defeat as Wigan manager at the Stadium of Light in February 2008.
As much as they are capable of pulling a result out of the bag when you least expect it, it feels like Sunderland won't have enough to beat Villa here. They earned a good, battling point away to Millwall on Saturday, but I just think that Steve Bruce's men should have the quality to overcome what is quite a toxic situation at the Stadium of Light.
Prutton predicts: 1-2 (8/1 with Sky Bet)