Sunderland v Fleetwood preview
Last Updated: 07/09/18 10:53am
Sunderland boss Jack Ross will have competition for places as he considers his options for Saturday's League One clash with Fleetwood.
Defenders Glenn Loovens and Adam Matthews have both returned to training after recovering after injury and are in contention for the visit of Joey Barton's side to the Stadium of Light.
Tom Flanagan, Jerome Sinclair and Charlie Wyke, who were all involved in Tuesday night's Checkatrade Trophy tie against Stoke Under-21s, have suffered no reaction and will hope to force their way into Ross' starting line-up.
Midfielder Max Power starts a three-match ban after failing in an appeal to have his red card against Oxford last weekend overturned, while Aiden McGeady and Duncan Watmore are making progress, but are still not ready to return.
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Fleetwood will be without winger Wes Burns after he too appealed unsuccessfully against a sending-off. Burns was dismissed for a challenge on Bradford's Adam Chicksen during last Saturday's 2-1 home win and will now sit out for three matches.
Barton will otherwise have a full squad to choose from with Bobby Grant, Kyle Dempsey, Cian Bolger, Gethin Jones and Eddie Clarke not even making the bench last weekend. The Cod Army will arrive on Wearside unbeaten on the road in the league so far this season and sitting in sixth place in the table, three points worse off than the Black Cats in fourth.
Sunderland will be facing Fleetwood Town for the first time in any competition.
Sunderland are enjoying a seven-game unbeaten run in league football (W5 D2) - they last went on a longer unbeaten run in the top four tiers in April 2007 when the Black Cats went 17 games unbeaten in the second tier.
Fleetwood have kept three consecutive away clean sheets (W2 D1) - the last time they kept four on the bounce came back in March 2017.
Sunderland have won three of their last four league games at the Stadium of Light (D1) - as many victories as in their previous 34 home league games.
Fleetwood boss Joey Barton played eight times at the Stadium of Light in all competitions, losing just once (W3 D4).
Now this should be a spicy affair! There is a fair bit of history between Sunderland fans and Joey Barton and it should create for a cracking atmosphere at the Stadium of Light and plenty of fireworks in the technical areas.
It doesn't hurt either that both of these sides are in excellent form so far and head into the weekend in the top six. Both have scored plenty of goals and are decent at the back, but I cannot split the two of them at the moment. Score draw.
David Prutton predicts: 1-1 (6/1 with Sky Bet)