Preview: It's Take Two As Reading Come To Town

Christopher Lee

Sunderland’s scheduled first home game of the season can finally take place, in December, as the rearranged clash with Reading gives the Black Cats a chance to claw themselves out of the bottom three. If you need team news, the referee’s name or a rallying cry from the manager ahead of tonight, here’s where you need to be.

Sunderland Team News

Steven Fletcher is expected to miss a second successive game due to an ankle injury. Connor Wickham has filled the void ably so far, and is expected to continue as the focal point of Sunderland's attack.

After James McClean's recent spell on the bench, Martin O'Neill admitted that other players would too need a rest, which may see Sebastian Larsson's position in midfield under threat. Considering Danny Rose's second half cameo in the middle of the park, it may come sooner rather than later.

Reading Team News

Defensive duo Chris Gunter and Sean Morrison are injury concerns as Reading make the trip to the North-East. Should Gunter miss out, then Warren Cummings will deputise at right-back as he did in the defeat to Southampton on Saturday.

Morrison's displays at the heart of defence have been promising, to the extent that Brian McDermott is likely to give the former Swindon man every possible chance of proving his fitness.

Predicted Lineups

Sunderland: Mignolet; Bardsley, Cuellar, O'Shea, Colback; Johnson, Gardner, Rose, McClean; Sessegnon, Wickham

Reading: Federici; Cummings, Morrison, Mariappa, Shorey; McAnuff, Leigertwood, Tabb, Robson-Kanu; Le Fondre, Roberts

Key Matchup: Connor Wickham Vs Sean Morrison

Two highly rated youngsters, and two physically impressive footballers will do battle. Since returning to the Sunderland first team, Wickham has shown that he has learned how to use his frame - not only in protecting the ball from defenders but also when contesting for the ball in the air. Wickham's ability to hold off Morrision, and hold the ball up, is key to Sunderland getting a foothold in the game.

Recent Form: WLLLL

Win: Reading 2-1 Everton (Le Fondre 51, 79 (pen); Naismith 10)

Loss: Wigan Athletic 3-2 Reading (Gomez 58, 68, 90+2; Morrison 35, Al-Habsi o.g. 80)

Loss: Aston Villa 1-0 Reading (Benteke 80)

Loss: Reading 3-4 Manchester United (Robson-Kanu 8, Le Fondre 19, Morrison 23; Anderson 13, Rooney 16 (pen), 30, Van Persie 34)

Loss: Southampton 1-0 Reading (Puncheon 61)

Last Time Around: Sunderland 2-1 Reading, 15/09/2007

Kenwyne Jones scored his first Sunderland goal as the club mourned the loss of FA Cup hero Ian Porterfield. The Trinidad striker swept home a shot from the edge of the area to mark his home debut for the Black Cats, their lead to be doubled just after half-time by Ross Wallace.

Dave Kitson's late goal gave the visitors some hope, but it proved to be little else.

The Ref: Neil Swarbick

Yet to take charge of a Sunderland game this season, the Lancashire-based ref has had an interesting season so far - ranging from five Premier League games to League One and Two commitments.

Swarbick has only ruled on the Lads six times in recent seasons; last year's league defeat to Arsenal at the Stadium of Light the most recent, but during the promotion-winning season under Roy Keane, Sunderland won all three games that Mr Swarbick officiated.

What The Managers Said

Martin O'Neill:

It's interesting because it's really the same squad that we have had - we still have, I think, about 19 players from last season.

The spirit is still there, and that was the thing I noticed most, really, that it hadn't been broken, and that spirit should stand us in really decent stead.

If we play with the same endeavour we had in the second half against Norwich and all the way through the game with Chelsea then we give ourselves a good chance.

Brian McDermott:

I understand that the supporters want to see their team win games.

They stayed with us again on Saturday and I thought they were fantastic. They will have been as frustrated as we were, everyone was bitterly disappointed.

But, I'm sure they'll travel up again on Tuesday, this is the time where everyone wants to be together and do what we have to do for our club.

Roker Report Predicts

If Sunderland are ever going to get back to winning ways then facing one of the league's poorest defences at home is surely the best place to start. Reading have shown that they are capable of scoring goals, so the home back four will need to revert to the form shown at the start of the season, rather than the error-strewn displays of recent weeks. Should that happen, then we'll all be happy later this evening. We'll plump for a 2-0 win, with the second coming late on.

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