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Preview: Back On The Road To Wembley

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After reaching the final last year, we are back on the Capital One Cup trail and come up against a familiar but not particularly popular face.

Michael Regan

Sunderland Team News

Gus Poyet is expected to make some changes from the side that was held to a home draw by Manchester United on Sunday.

Although wholesale changes are unlikely, expect the likes of Costel Pantilimon, Billy Jones and Jordi Gomez to make their first competitive starts for the club.

Emanuele Giaccherini remains sidelined with the groin injury he picked up during pre-season but Adam Johnson may return to the fold after missing out at the weekend due to illness.

Birmingham City Team News

Birmingham will have to do without Matt Green and Gavin Gunning who are out due to knee injuries and an injury to his back sidelines Andrew Shinnie. Lee Clark will make a few changes to the team that secured a draw with Brentford, with Colin Doyle replacing Darren Randolph in goal.

Predicted Line-Ups

Sunderland vs Birmingham - Football tactics and formations

Sunderland (4-3-3): Pantilimon; Jones, Vergini, O'Shea, van Aanholt; Bridcutt, Larsson, Gomez; Buckley, Wickham, Johnson.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Doyle; Spector, Hall, Edgar, Robinson; Cotterill, Gleeson, Davis, Gray; Donaldson, Thomas.

Key Match-Up: Paul Robinson vs. Will Buckley

After a very promising debut against Manchester United, Buckley will be looking to continue the good start to his Sunderland career as he comes up against the experienced Robinson.

Robinson will have his work cut out handling the pacey winger and will have to use all his experience to keep Buckley out of the game, however Sunderland's newest signing should be helped by the presence of Jones who is a more attacking full back than Santiago Vergini.

Recent Form: DDWWL

Draw: Brentford 1-1 Birmingham (Odubajo 79'; Caddis 16' (pen))

Draw: Birmingham 2-2 Ipswich (Edgar 30', C.Donaldson 63'; Berra 50', 90+4')

Won: Birmingham 1-0 Brighton (Thomas 49')

Won: Birmingham 3-1 Cambridge (C.Donaldson 16', Caddis 96', Duffy 106'; R.Donaldson 38')

Loss: Middlesbrough 2-0 Birmingham (Ayala 33', Kike 66')

Last Time Around: Birmingham 2-0 Sunderland (16-4-2011)

Sunderland were undone by two soon-to-be Sunderland players, as Seb Larsson scored just before half-time and Craig Gardner wrapped up victory for the home side with a goal just after the hour mark.

Due to a host of injuries Steve Bruce was forced to field Sunderland's youngest ever Premier League side, with an average age of 23 years and 311 days. Despite defeating Sunderland, Birmingham would go on to be relegated while Bruce steered the visitors to a 10th place finish, that's for sure.

The Ref: Darren Bond

Bond has never refereed a game involving Sunderland but was a linesman for four Sunderland games during the 2011-12 season, a 3-0 home win against Norwich and three away games, the 1-1 derby draw with Newcastle, the 2-0 win at Bolton and a 4-0 defeat at Everton.

More recently he has refereed five games this season across League One, League Two and the Capital One Cup and shown nine yellow cards.

What The Managers Said

Gus Poyet

It's incredible what people have been saying to me during the summer. I'll tell you what - they talk more about Wembley, where we lost, than about the miracle we won.

I cannot get it, I am sorry, I am only happy when we are winning football games. But that's how much it means to them.

We will try. Normally it is one every 20-plus years - you want two in a row? You are asking for a lot. But we will try.

Lee Clark

My links with the club have been well documented, and it will add a bit of spice to the game. The tin hat may have to come out. I don't think the fans will be too complimentary about me.

I had a terrific two years there but it turned a bit sour. It was a regrettable incident but I've moved on, and I'm looking forward to coming up against an established Premier League side.

Sunderland could be a decent bet for a top half finish, but I'm hoping my lads will give another good cup performance like they did against Swansea and Stoke last season.

Roker Report Predicts

Poyet showed last season that he has what it takes to manufacture good cup runs for his sides and we don't expect Birmingham to stand in our way of yet another one. It will be a close game however but our extra quality should tell in the end. We are going for a 3-1 away win.