Preview: Can Sunderland Make Spirited Reebok Comeback Count?

Mark Thompson

Sunderland and Bolton slog it out tonight for the right to meet Everton in the fourth round of the FA Cup, but can they make that spirited comeback at the Reebok count?

Sunderland Team News

New signings Alfred N'Diaye and Kader Mangane are ineligible, having not been registered for the original tie.

Danny Rose looks set to miss out having suffered an injury in the original tie, with Jack Colback again likely to deputise at left-back.

Despite Titus Bramble's impressive display against West Ham United, there remains a reservation about his capability to play two games in relatively quick succession. Carlos Cuellar remains sidelined with a hamstring injury so Matt Kilgallon could find himself back in the starting line-up.

Bolton Team News

Former Sunderland man Stuart Holden could return to the Bolton first team for the first time since sustaining a serious knee injury, but David Wheater, Mark Davies and Matt Mills all remain on the sidelines.

Marvin Sordell, who scored in the game at the Reebok Stadium, is pushing for a start after being left out against Millwall on Saturday.

Craig Davies is in the same position as Sunderland's new signings, having joined the Trotters after the original tie.

Predicted Line-ups

Sunderland: Mignolet; Gardner, O'Shea, Kilgallon, Colback; Johnson, Larsson, Vaughan, McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher

Bolton: Bogdan; Ricketts, Knight, Ream, Alonso; Lee, Andrews, Spearing, Eagles; K Davies, Sordell

Key Matchup: James McClean vs Sam Ricketts

Sunderland's Irish winger looks invigorated after his little spell out of the team and his industrious style has caused teams problems of late. A problem of Ricketts' over the years has been his concentration, and with McClean often high on supply from the wide areas, the Welsh international will need to be focussed to prevent Sunderland getting a lot of left-sided service.

Recent Form: LLWLDD

Loss: Peterborough United 5-4 Bolton Wanderers (Tomlin 2, Gayle 6, Thorne 47, Little 69, Zakuani 83; Andrews pen 45+3, pen 56, Afobe 85, Petrov 87)

Loss: Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday (Sidibe 25)

Win: Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Birmingham City (Alonso 27, Lee 33, Andrews pen 79; Zigic 11)

Loss: Leeds United 1-0 Bolton Wanderers (Becchio pen 66)

Draw: Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Sunderland (Lee 12, Sordell 48; Wickham 60, Gardner 75)

Draw: Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Millwall (Andrews pen 34; Keogh pen 9)

Last Time Around: Sunderland 2-2 Bolton Wanderers, 28/04/12

The last time Bolton came to the Stadium of Light, Kevin Davies scored a brace, and pulled Matt Kilgallon's pants down in the process.

Nicklas Bendtner replied to Davies' first, firing home a wonderfully incisive pass from Jack Colback, before James McClean put Sunderland in front.

But Davies was to outmuscle Kilgallon once more, and equalise in front of the travelling support.

The Ref: Kevin Friend

Kev has hardly been a great friend of Sunderland in the past. He was the man who decided John Mensah fouling Jay Spearing clearly outside the box was worthy of a Liverpool penalty.

Perhaps he may be a good omen for Sunderland this season, however. He was the man in charge for the Boxing Day win over Manchester City at the Stadium of Light.

What The Managers Said

Martin O'Neill:

"We have got home advantage at this moment and the crowd behind us and we will go into the game with plenty of confidence, but going into the game with confidence is no guarantee of anything.

"We started sluggishly against Bolton [in the original tie] and I don't think we can afford to do that, but against West Ham we started strongly and the most pleasing aspect for me was that we kept it going. For the most part, we were terrific.

"Our second-half performance against Bolton in the cup helped cement that. It gave us that lift, not only that we were still in the cup, but the players felt that now they could move on."

Dougie Freedman:

"To play these games against Premier League teams just reminds the lads what we're missing.

"We feel in the first game we played very well for 70 minutes against a Premier League side. We were 2-0 up and I felt that we possibly deserved to take the game.

"We'll go up there full of confidence knowing that if we produce what we produced at home then we've got a chance of winning this game."

Roker Report Predicts

O'Neill has long stressed the importance about the spirit within the squad and that was evident against West Ham - along with a fair bit of quality when transitioning into attack.

The ‘one game at a time' mantra is never more relevant than in a cup competition, but with confidence high on Wearside and the fans buoyed by not only Saturday's performance but the arrival of two new signings, we'll plump for progress in the form of a 2-0 win, with Steven Fletcher to get a first goal in five games.

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