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Preview: Cats Purring Ahead Of Bruce Return

It's Hull City up next for Sunderland on Saturday, with a former manager (and a bunch of players) coming back to the Stadium of Light

Bryn Lennon

Sunderland Team News

Gus Poyet is expected to name an unchanged team from the 3-0 win over Newcastle United.

The former Brighton boss has revealed that Steven Fletcher's Achilles injury has become a pressing concern, but Lee Cattermole is nearing a return after missing the last two games.

Should Cattermole not quite make it, Liam Bridcutt is in line to make his home debut at the base of Sunderland's midfield.

Hull City Team News

Despite deploying a 4-4-2 formation at home to Tottenham Hotspur, Steve Bruce could revert to the 3-5-2 formation that has served Hull well - primarily not to become outnumbered in midfield.

Goalkeeper Allan McGregor is suspended after being sent off against Crystal Palace, so former Newcastle reserve Steve Harper will continue to deputise.

A clutch of former Black Cats are likely to be included - such as Paul McShane, David Meyler and Ahmed Elmohamady - whilst Sone Aluko is pushing for a start, although may find it difficult to dislodge January signings Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic.

Predicted Lineups

Hull City vs Sunderland - Football tactics and formations

Sunderland: Mannone; Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Alonso; Bridcutt; Johnson, Ki, Colback, Borini; Altidore

Hull City: Harper; McShane, Davies, Bruce; Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler, Figueroa; Long, Jelavic

Key Matchup: Adam Johnson vs Hull's Left Side

Having touched upon the tactical options that Bruce has going into this game, one of his main concerns will undoubtedly be how to contain Adam Johnson.

Should Hull go with three at the back, then Bruce will need to be mindful of the space between his left centre-back and the left wing-back-cum-left-sided midfielder. Going forward, Johnson could find himself double-marked in the way he has been in the past, but in counter-attacking transitions getting the ball to Sunderland's in-form man could prove fruitful.

Recent Form: WLLWLD

Win: Middlesbrough 0-2 Hull City (McLean 10, Proschwitz 61)

Loss: Hull City 0-2 Chelsea (Hazard 56, Torres 87)

Loss: Norwich City 1-0 Hull City (Bennett 87)

Win: Southend 0-2 Hull City (Fryatt 63, 90)

Loss: Crystal Palace 1-0 Hull City (Puncheon 16)

Draw: Hull City 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur (Long 12; Paulinho 61)

Last Time Around: Sunderland 4-1, 12/09/2009

Before the bad turned ugly, the Ricky Sbragia era did have some good.

Darren Bent routinely opened the scoring before a Kamil Zayatte goal just before half-time. Yet, in the second half, Andy Reid and Bent struck before debutant Michael Turner's header was deemed to have gone in via Zayatte.

The Ref: Mike Jones

The relationship with the Chester-based official could seldom have got worse - his first two games that involved Sunderland were a 2-0 defeat to Bury and a 4-1 defeat to Preston North End. Thankfully Roy Keane came in and that season ended on a far better note, but Sunderland are without a win in the last five games that Jones has taken charge of.

Hopefully Saturday will be one of those days where the ‘you can't spell ‘trend' without ‘end'' phrase is applicable.

What The Managers Said

Gus Poyet

This is a massive game for us and after doing so well in recent weeks, I want the players to see it through.

We need to be realistic - a month ago, we were bottom.

And when you look at the three games after Hull, they are so difficult that, who knows, we could be bottom again after them.

If we beat Hull it would have a big impact on our season - it would be massive.

Steve Bruce

Let's all move on with our lives.

Aye, only taken him three years of bitching, whining, accusations and wild accusations of engrained bigotry...

Roker Report Predicts

That this good run will continue. The presence of Hull's newly-acquired strike force is likely to trouble Sunderland's recent defensive good form, but the movement of Poyet's charges in attack is looking irrepressible at times. We'll go for a 2-1 win.

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