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Preview: Sunderland vs Cardiff... Do Or Die

Sunderland welcome Cardiff to the North East tomorrow lunch time for what is quite simply a game of monolithic proportions, a fixture neither side can afford to lose

Mike Hewitt

Sunderland team news

Following last weekend's quite remarkable victory at Fortress Stamford Bridge I don't envisage Gus Poyet tinkering with his side much at all, the old adage of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" very much applies.

One area where the Uruguayan may have a decision to make is the right-back berth as Phil Bardsley is in contention for a return to the starting eleven following his suspension, although Santiago Vergini certainly looked more comfortable in that spot last weekend.

There will be no outing for Ki Sung-Yeung however as injury continues to keep him out of the gaffer's plans.

Cardiff team news

Cardiff will be without Craig Noone tomorrow afternoon as an abdominal problem continues to keep him out the Bluebirds side, which may be a bit of a blessing given his eye-catching performance when the sides met back in December.

Club captain Mark Hudson is also set to miss the huge game with a hamstring injury.

Craig Bellamy would certainly enjoy a "warm welcome" if he overcomes a virus which forced him to miss his side's last game, a draw against Stoke.

Former Black Cat Fraizer Campbell on the other hand can be assured of a more pleasant reception, although cheers would soon turn to jeers should the forward manage to find the back of the net.

Predicted line-ups

Sunderland vs Cardiff - Premier League - 26th April 2014 - Football tactics and formations

Key match-up: Connor Wickham v Steven Caulker

Wickham has been a revelation since his return to the starting eleven and Poyet's faith in the forward has been rewarded with three goals in his last two games. Cardiff will be relying upon one of their standout performers of a difficult campaign, Steven Caulker, to keep Wickham at bay, although given the rich vein of form the Sunderland man is in at the moment you wouldn't bet against him adding to his goal tally.

Recent form: LLDLWD

Loss: Everton 2 - 1 Cardiff
Loss: Cardiff 3 - 6 Liverpool
Draw: West Brom 3 - 3 Cardiff
Loss: Cardiff 0 - 3 Crystal Palace
Win: Southampton 0 - 1 Cardiff
Draw: Cardiff 1 - 1 Stoke

Last Time Around:

Sunderland managed to salvage an unlikely point from a game which looked dead and buried at the hour mark as a late goal from Steven Fletcher and an even later equaliser from Jack Colback in the fifth minute of injury time saw the spoils shared in Cardiff's first game since sacking Malky Mackay.

Referee: Phil Dowd

Ah, good old Phil Dowd, the thinking man's referee of choice... The Staffordshire based official has overseen thirty-two fixtures this season, dishing out one-hundred and forty one yellow cards and four red.

The last time Dowd took charge of a game involving the Black Cats was the defeat to Norwich a month ago which saw Marcos Alonso see red for two yellow card offences.

What the managers said

Gus Poyet

If we take this chance, I'll forget the missed opportunities very quickly indeed.

We are very lucky to have this chance, and I find myself constantly coming back to that. But we need to do everything possible to stay in the Premier League, and that means taking this chance which has come along.

Football is scary. This team is bottom of the league, but they can still be heroes. That's the way it is. When you get to this moment, having had so little chance, and you do something incredible, you become heroes.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

If you look at the league table, it's big for both of us. It is still so tight down the bottom that a win will be hugely needed for both of us, while a draw is probably no good for either of us.

At the moment it is just about the Sunderland game. We go into it focused, and we have prepared really well. I can't wait.

Roker Report predicts

Well, here it is, quite possibly the biggest game in the club's recent history. Sure the Cup Final was a fantastic opportunity for silverware and a brilliant day out for the fans but with the club's Premier League status hanging by a frayed thread, tomorrow is quite simply huge.

With a bumper crowd anticipated and on the back of some confidence boosting performances you have to feel Sunderland can just about edge this one. I'm predicting a 2-1 victory for the lads, with a late Cardiff goal ensuring the standard nerve-shredding finish.

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