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Preview: Sunderland Set For Tough Cup Test

Sunderland take on Peterborough United tonight, and we've got all the essential information you need ahead of kick off.

Sunderland Team News

Usually a caretaker manager doesn't mess around too much, so we think Kevin Ball is likely to make only the changes most others would have.

Vito Mannone will likely be given another outing in place of Keiren Westwood. Westwood was poor in the defeat against West Bromwich Albion, so it's a real chance for Mannone to stake a claim for a regular first team spot.

In defence we don't envisage too many changes, with the likelihood being only Valentin Roberge will come back in to the team with John O'Shea given a rest. The game could come too soon for Wes Brown to make any significant impact.

In midfield it looks like the impressive Charis Mavrias will get a start, with Emanuele Giaccherini the odd man out after suffering a recurrence of an injury against the Baggies last time out. We'd also fully expect Lee Cattermole to make a start ahead of Craig Gardner in the middle too alongside Ki.

In attack we know now that Steven Fletcher will be out for a while, so it's the Altidore and Borini show for the foreseeable future. Ji Dong-Won will be challenging (or pulling his head out of) from the bench.

Peterborough Team News

Posh boss Darren Ferguson has his team playing really well at the moment, and have earned their way to this clash with a superb 6-0 victory over Reading. They're also on a high from beating near-rivals MK Dons in their last league game in heroic circumstances.

Ferguson will likely be fielding his strongest side as he feels a victory is well within their grasp.

Ones to watch will include Lee Tomlin, a superb midfielder in the middle of the park and summer signing Britt Assombalonga in attack who has been among the goals on a regular basis since his move from Watford.

Nathaniel Knight-Percival and Mark Little should miss out having been sent off against MK Dons. I think.

Predicted Lineups

Sunderland vs Peterborough United - Football tactics and formations

Sunderland: Mannone; Celustka, Colback, Roberge, Diakite; Mavrias, Ki, Cattermole, Johnson; Altidore, Borini

Peterborough United: Olejnik; Alcock, Bostwick, Zakuani, Rowe; Swanson, Payne, Tomlin, Mendez-Laing; Barnett, Assombalonga

Key Matchup: Modibo Diakite Vs Britt Assombalonga

The enigma of Modibo Diakite is one of the most confusing in recent seasons. At times he can bat away attackers like they barely exist. At other times the man-mountain is left on his arse from a slight shoulder charge.

Britt Assombalonga has been very impressive this season, and has a great mix of pace and ability which could trouble our backline, much like Patrick Bamford did last time out in the cup.

Diakite will need to be at his best all game round to cope with Assombalonga, or be moved on to the slightly less threatening Tyrone Barnett. Barnett is a stronger, bigger player but much less skilful than his strike partner. That said, I wouldn't fancy Roberge against Assombalonga either.

Diakite will have to prove to be strong and consistent. Something we've not seen so far.

Recent Form: WLDWW

Peterborough United 6-0 Reading (Assombalonga 4, Tomlin 19, 54, 79, Swanson 27, Payne 90)

Peterborough United 0-2 Crawley Town (Alexander 22, 65)

Crewe Alexandra 2-2 Peterborough United (Oliver 15, Leitch-Smith 21; Barnett 45, Bostwick 90)

Bristol City 0-3 Peterborough United (Barnett 24, Assombalonga 51, 88)

Peterborough United 2-1 MK Dons (Tomlin 12, Assombalonga 34; McLeod 74)

Last Time Around: Sunderland 2-0 Peterborough United, 02/10/93

I think we might have played Peterborough at him since this date for some reason, but both the Stat Cat and Eurorivals say that this was the last encounter at our place.

So back to 1993-94 season. A more simple and pleasant time without the burden of expectation as Sunderland secured a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Gary Owers and Phil Gray.

Quite a formidable forward four that day of Owers, Gray, Russell and Goodman. I don't have anything more interesting to add unfortunately.

The Ref: Michael Naylor

The referee for tonight is 5-year veteran Michael Naylor of South Yorkshire.

The Football League referee spends most his time doing League One and Two games, with the occasional jolly into the Championship.

Thus far this season he has been very lenient. In five games he has only dished out six yellow cards, no reds, and awarded one penalty.

What The Managers Said

Kevin Ball

Nothing. All pre-match press was cancelled by the club after Di Canio's sacking.

Darren Ferguson

I am expecting Sunderland to fly at us from the start.

We know we face a hard game as we are playing a Premier League side away from home, but we also know if we play to our best we will give them a tough match.

Roker Report Predicts

A tough game. Too many changes and we could be headed out of the competition as the Posh are a much tougher and better proposition than MK Dons.

Overall we will have enough to overcome them, although with a caretaker in charge and us becoming even more of an unknown quantity, the prediction aspect becomes anyone's guess.

Far from a classic, I'll plump for Sunderland to win 2-1 in extra time.