Preview: Middlesbrough v Sunderland - Let's Just Get This Over With!

Fraizer Campbell could be set to return to the starting line-up tonight, but wholesale changes are unlikely.

Wow, another game! They seem to be flying by at the minute, but they do say time flies when you're having fun. And boy, are we having fun.

So, it's on to the Fourth Round FA Cup replay with Middlesbrough. Martin O'Neill was quick to highlight that his side was from at its best in the original tie, but two league wins - and two clean sheets - later and Sunderland are ready to do battle once more.

Sunderland Team News

"In terms of the long-term injuries, they haven't changed at all, and as for the rest of it it's very much as it was." - That was Martin O'Neill's message ahead of tonight's FA Cup 4th Round replay, and so what was available at Stoke will more than likely be on show once more.

Having rested Fraizer Campbell at the weekend, there is every chance that he will be reinstated to the starting line-up, potentially replacing David Meyler - who Campbell made way for in the Stoke game. Meyler did nothing wrong in the game at the Britannia of course; his selection rewarded his endeavour of late and also gave Sunderland a steelier midfield approach against a physical opponent.

With O'Neill cautious over Campbell's recently healed knee against Stoke, the extra few days rest should allow the striker to be reinstalled in the side, enabling him to further his blossoming understanding with Stephane Sessegnon.

Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Kyrgiakos are ineligible due to neither being registered to play in the original tie, meaning a few youngsters such as striker Craig Lynch, might find themselves on the bench to take up space.

Middlesbrough Team News

Tony Mowbray has a few decisions to make ahead of the game: Marvin Emnes and Faris Haroun both have hamstring problems and are rated as doubtful. Scorer at the Stadium Of Light, Barry Robson, is currently wearing a protective cast to protect a dislocated finger and Danny Coyne is yet to recover after limping off in our previous meeting, both remain big doubts for the game.

Striker Scott McDonald has been ruled out for the rest of the season a knee injury. Curtis Main is in the frame (not an intentional rhyme, honestly) to replace the Australian.

One upside for the hosts, and for Sunderland fans, is that Julio Arca is available after serving a three game suspension after being red carded at Coventry City, and looks set to start. Be sure to give him a very warm reception as is deserved.

Predicted Line-ups

SAFC: Mignolet; Bardsley, Turner, O'Shea, Richardson; Larsson, Gardner, Colback, McClean; Sessegnon; Campbell

MFC: Steele; McMahon, Bates, Hines, Hoyte; Thomson, Arca, Robson, Williams, Bennett; Jutkiewicz

Classic Encounter

A 3-2 win at the Stadium of Light in April 2008 - These classics aren't much for the history books are they!?

Danny Higginbotham cancelled out a Tuncay opener before Michael Chopra put the home side in front before the interval. The Wearside faithful bellowed "Chopra's One Of Us"... How wrong we were.

After Afonso Alves proved once more that even the most useless of strikers manage to get a goal against Sunderland, but from one useless striker to another, Darryl Murphy, yep, Darryl Murphy scored a header in the last minute to secure all three points.

Get Rich Quick

Well, based on me suggesting a James McClean 1-0 scorecast against Swansea, it's safe to say that whatever I go with this week, it's best to leave it a few games before it finally comes up trumps!

There is no denying that Stephane Sessegnon is playing his best football since arriving at Sunderland. Everything goes through him and his pace, ability to change direction in an instant and attacking intentions are making him increasingly difficult to deal with. The current counter attacking system deployed by O'Neill suits him down to the ground at the moment and he's in decent goal scoring form - so I think he could help himself to a couple tonight.

  • Stephane Sessegnon to score 2 (or more) goals is best-priced 14/1 with SportingBet
  • If memory serves, our last FA Cup run got going with a bit of extra time joy, so the sentimental in me thinks this may be a likely, albeit unwanted, passage to the next round. Sunderland to win in extra time is available at 8/1 with Ladbrokes

Song For Whoever

Was it going to be anything else!? Even if I did come up with something, Roker Report supremo Simon Walsh would have changed it to this. So we'll stick with it, and hopefully give it an airing or two tonight.

All together now....Ju-li-o!

Prediction

We don't really want to be there long, do we? Nobody wants to spend too much time in Middlesborough. Let's just get in, get out, get through. Middlesbrough 0-2 Sunderland is my prediction, and we'll be very much looking forward to the next round against Arsenal at the Stadium Of Light.

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