Sunderland v Burnley preview: Black Cats suffer further Jan Kirchhoff blow
Last Updated: 18/03/17 2:12pm
Sunderland have suffered a blow ahead of their crucial Premier League clash with Burnley with the news that defender Jan Kirchhoff has been ruled out for at least another four weeks.
Kirchhoff had been set to return to the Black Cats squad after three months out with hamstring and knee injuries, but suffered a bad reaction after an Under-23 game against Manchester United.
Sunderland are desperate for a first win in three games, having dropped six points from safety with 11 games remaining, and face a Burnley side still relatively safe in mid-table.
However, Sean Dyche's side have still only taken two points away from home this season.
Elsewhere for the hosts, Jason Denayer returns after being ruled out against his parent club Manchester City, but Steven Pienaar remains a doubt as he struggles to shake off a calf injury.
Steven Defour is unlikely to be fit for Burnley's Premier League trip to Sunderland as the Clarets go in search of their long-awaited first away win of the season.
The Belgium international continued his recovery from a hamstring strain by playing 70 minutes of a midweek friendly, but he is short of match fitness and unlikely to be risked.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson is still out with a medial ligament injury and joins long-term absentee Dean Marney (also knee) on the sidelines.
Sunderland and Burnley meet for the fourth time in all competitions this season; the first time they've met four times in a campaign since 1978/79.
Indeed, Burnley have yet to lose to Sunderland in their three meetings this season, winning two and drawing the other.
The Black Cats have won five and lost none of their last eight home games against Burnley in all competitions. In fact, Burnley's last win away at Sunderland arrived in the aforementioned 1978/79 season.
Jermain Defoe has scored in his last two Premier League appearances against Burnley.
Defoe has scored in every month of Premier League action between January 2016 and February 2017 (12 successive months) but is yet to score in March 2017.
Andre Gray is the only Burnley player to score a hat-trick in Premier League history; after he bagged three against Sunderland earlier this season.
A must-win game for Sunderland, who I worry for at the moment. Even if they win this, it is only closing the gap, but they have to win this one. You look at Burnley's away record, but without getting the results, they are playing a lot better away from home, there is no doubt about that in my opinion.
It is a hard game and Sunderland have to win it, but I am going to go for 2-1 to Burnley, I think they are not far from winning away from home. And I just think that Sunderland have to chase this game and Burnley are a better team than people think they are.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2 (9/1 with Sky Bet)
Sunderland are Sky Bet's 6/4 favourites for the victory with Burnley 15/8 for a first away win and 9/4 to leave with a point. Jermain Defoe heads the first goalscorer betting at 7/2 while Andre Gray is considered the Clarets' main threat at 13/2.