Preview: Can Sunderland Trot To Victory At Bolton?

Chris Brunskill

After the frankly awful showing at Anfield, Sunderland have the opportunity to put that performance behind them as they travel to the Reebok Stadium in the FA Cup. Do the Black Cats have enough in the tank to beat Bolton? Check our preview and decide for yourself.

Sunderland Team News

Despite the horrific showing against Liverpool, we came through the ordeal relatively injury free. Phil Bardsley may have recovered enough to take his place in the side, and it will be interesting to see whether Craig Gardner is preferred in midfield, with Bardo falling back into the defence.

That might not be the only change at the back. With John O'Shea still likely to miss out, Martin O'Neill has a decision to make on whether to play Matt Kilgallon, who made a mockery of him at Anfield the other evening. However, with Titus Bramble as the only other viable option, there is a chance that the gaffer will allow Kilgallon another opportunity to prove himself.

Martin O'Neill proved last season that he cares about the FA Cup, and stated on Wednesday night that this is a big game for the squad, so I wouldn't be expecting too many players to be rested.

Bolton Team News

The Trotters fell to a 1-0 defeat away at Leeds in the league last time out, but manager Dougie Freedman has no additional injury worries ahead of this weekend's cup clash.

He welcomed one-time apparent Sunderland target David Ngog back into his squad for the game at Elland Road, and it is likely that the only change will come on the bench, as Jacob Butterfield's loan spell from Norwich has come to an end, with the former Barnsley man travelling back to Norwich (before a rumoured move to Crystal Palace).

Predicted Line-ups

SAFC: Mignolet; Gardner, Kilgallon, Cuellar, Rose; Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean, Sessegnon; Fletcher

Bolton: Bogdan; Mears, Knight, Ream, Alonso; Andrews, Spearing, Lee, Pratley, Eagles; Davies

Key Match-up: Kevin Davies v Matt Kilgallon

Should Martin O'Neill put faith in our man 'Frank Spencer' again after Anfield, then he'll be coming up against an opponent that he knows well.

Last season Kevin Davies proved why Martin O'Neill was keen to take him from the Reebok to the Stadium of Light when he taught our part-time defender a real lesson. It was a schooling from start to finish, and it could well prove to be one that could really damage Sunderland's chances of reaching the fourth round of the FA Cup. We all know about his physical attributes, and he could well be up against a player that got beaten to a header by Raheem Sterling in midweek. Ouch.

Recent Form: WLLWL

Win: Bolton 2 - 0 Charlton Athletic (Ngog, 74, 80)

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

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

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

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

Last Time Around: Bolton 0-2 Sunderland, 22/10/11

Although Kevin Davies would have the last laugh at the Stadium of Light later, it was Sunderland who came out on top in Bolton and the Black Cats' first meeting of the season, which saw the visitors pick up their first points on the road, and only a second win of the campaign. It may have looked to have been heading for a draw as the scores were level eight minutes from time, but goals from Stephane Sessegnon and Nicklas Bendtner put the game to bed.

The Ref: Mike Jones

We meet with Mr Jones for only the second time this season, although his disciplinary record to date shouldn't exactly be filling us with confidence.

In only 13 games this season, Mr Jones has dished out 49 yellow cards, an average of 3.8 a game, which currently has him at second, on average, in the Premier League. Although, in fairness to him, he's only shown red twice.

A referee with a reputation for not letting the game flow, he'll do well to ignore the persistent pushing and shoving that Kevin Davies has made a career out of.

What The Managers Said

Martin O'Neill:

We've had some big games as of late and maybe in terms of recovery we just haven't go that ability to switch things arounds as we would like to.

As always, we'll dust ourselves off and get ready to go again on Saturday as we've got a big game at Bolton in the FA Cup.

Dougie Freedman:

We now have a home tie against Sunderland, and that gives me a good opportunity to freshen up the squad and give some game time to those pushing for first team action.

Roker Report Predicts

After the shambles that was Liverpool, Martin O'Neill will be desperate for his team to put in a good performance. We've said earlier that he is a big fan of the FA Cup, as we proved last season, and a good cup run could provide the confidence that we need to push up the Premier League. Although we're facing a tough away tie, and could have hoped for an easier game, we should have enough about us to win this one against the struggling Championship side.

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