Kick Off: 13:30pm GMT, 13th August 2016
Venue: The Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Last Season: N/A
Dafabet Odds: SAFC - 6/4 Draw - 21/10 Boro - 2/1
As we all know being a Sunderland supporter is rarely boring - often very frustrating, but rarely boring.
This past week has been no exception, and having lost last Saturday away at Manchester City we have to attempt to ignore the news that Younes Kaboul is off to Watford and focus on the task at hand, which is of course beating a very threatening and capable Middlesbrough team who are no doubt relishing the opportunity to rock up at the Stadium of Light and take three points from the team they consider their nearest rivals.
Whilst the world seems to be toppling around us it's very easy to be negative, but I'm trying my best to remain positive, at least until the transfer window closes.
Lets be honest, if you were a Middlesbrough fan now you'd be massively confident of getting a result on Sunday. Their honeymoon period still hasn't finished yet and it's probably the biggest game they've played in since being relegated seven years ago, against a team they class as a genuine rival. The team news that has emerged over recent days from Sunderland should give them optimism - I know that if the shoe was on the other foot we'd be feeling the same.
I know it feels like the end of the world, but it isn't. The eleven players on the pitch need your support and full backing this weekend and we need to make sure that they get it. Whatever we think about the club right now, we have to keep supporting the players that do want to stay and give their all.
Seb Larsson remains a long term injury, whilst Sunderland will also be missing Jan Kirchhoff (hamstring), Billy Jones (hip/thigh), Lee Cattermole (groin), Lamine Kone (wanker) and potentially Fabio Borini, who has a toe injury and will require a late fitness test. To say that we are thin on the ground is an understatement.
Mannone, Van Aanholt, Djilobodji, O'Shea, Love, McNair, Rodwell, Gooch, Khazri, Januzaj, Defoe.
Jan had an injection to see if they could cure a bit of neuro pain leading into his hamstring.
Lee Cattermole has had a double hernia and as you know Seb Larsson has had an operation that will keep him out for up to six months. We have a few injuries, Billy Jones' hip problem, so it has just kept us a little bit low.
We have a doubt over Borini with a toe injury. So, that is why we put young players in last week and they didn't let us down. If we have to do it again then we will.
I have no idea. Honestly, I don't know how to feel. Our squad seems to be falling apart but watching the way Hull's players pulled together and got a win against Leicester last week gives me hope that just because a team is low on numbers it doesn't mean they're going to let other teams walk all over them.
I'm going for a 1-0 Sunderland win with Adnan Januzaj getting the goal.