Sunderland vs Southend...
Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over Walsall will send Southend to the North East to face Sunderland in confident mood.
They will know, though, how tough the task that is in store for them at the Stadium of Light against a former Premier League side just two seasons ago.
Jack Ross’ Black Cats have won three on the bounce and are currently third in the Sky Bet League One table, so themselves will be expecting to keep the pressure on the top two.
Blues will be playing in front of an expected crowd of around 30,000, but having only lost once in their last seven, Chris Powell will be hopeful of keeping their good form on the road up, winning their last three away from Roots Hall.
17th February 2007: Sunderland (Connolly, Hysen, John x2) 4-0 Southend
19th August 2006: Southend (Barrett x2, Bradbury) 3-1 Sunderland (Stead)
27 February 1996: Southend 0-2 Sunderland (Scott, Bridges)
Blues will be without Harry Lennon after he fractured his leg against Walsall, and top goalscorer Tom Hopper is doubtful.
Hopper had to be withdrawn with a knee injury in the first half of Tuesday’s 3-0 over Walsall and was due to have a scan on Thursday.
Luke Hyam is back in full training but won’t be available with Chris Powell saying he needs to get some minutes under his belt before making a return.
Jack Ross is hoping to have Josh Maja available once again this Saturday.
Sunderland’s leader scorer, Maja, missed Tuesday’s win at Doncaster Rover.
Elsewhere, Bryan Oviedo will be in the squad to face Southend United after serving his three-game ban while Glenn Loovens returned to training today (Thursday) but won’t be ready in time for this weekend.
Chris Powell, Southend United Manager;
“It was a good display on Tuesday so we’ve got to take confidence from that and what we’ve done on the road.
“It’s another test for us and one we know that will be tricky, but actually it’s a game that should inspire us.
“We’re going to a place which has seen Premier League football. They’re trying to re-build themselves as a football club but as I say to the players bring it on and let’s get on with it.”
Jack Ross, Sunderland Manager;
“Now we have put together this run in recent weeks and this record since the start of the season – we don’t want to give up these things lightly.
“We have another challenging fixture on Saturday. Just because we are at home it doesn’t make it easier than the ones we have faced.
“Southend’s form has been very good in terms of the last six games, so we know it is a tough match. Every team that has come to the Stadium of Light has produced good performances as well, so we know we have to play well to win the game.”
Tickets are now only available from Sunderland on the day. Any tickets not collected will be taken to Sunderland to collect on the day.
There will be a cash turnstile (number 71) for Blues fans to purchase tickets on the day and prices don't increase on the day. If you wish to pay by card there will be an allocation in the ticket office however we have been advised it gets very busy on a matchday so it is advisable to pay on the turnstile if possible.
Supporters are kindly asked to arrive early as Sunderland holds its annual Remembrance commemorations.
At approximately 2.40pm, soldiers from the 5th Regiment Royal Artillery will undertake a parade around the Stadium of Light pitch and the club is asking as many supporters as possible to be in their seats to show their appreciation to the soldiers, many of whom are Sunderland fans.
The teams will then take to the field slightly earlier than usual, as Staff Sergeant Chris Gee from 5th Royal Artillery lays a poppy wreath in the centre-circle and players and supporters of both clubs gather to observe a traditional period of silence prior to kick off.
Supporters are also advised that concourse bars will close slightly earlier, in order for the silence to be observed in the appropriate manner.