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It’s all on the line; FOUR key questions heading into Sunderland’s game today with Leeds United

Will the fans be rewarded for their loyalty? Will we go all out and attack in order to achieve the three points? Who will play in defence and, most importantly, will the fight still be there?

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Tickets were expensive - will the fans be rewarded?

Sunderland fans have had their eyes taken out at £38 for a ticket by Leeds United, yet regardless of that and the fact we’re basically relegated there will be 2200 supporters in the away end at Elland Road today.

Remarkable. Sunderland’s supporters are the greatest asset this football club has and I firmly believe that for a sale to eventually happen we have to continue to showcase what is good about this football club with things like this, selling out away ends and showing our loyalty.

The players must wonder why these fans keep turning up to watch them lose, but all they want to see is a team that tries. Give it your best effort and they’ll show you their adulation in kind.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

How far will we go to get three points?

Chris Coleman has spoke this week about needing to go out and win every single game between now and the end of the season - an unbelievable task, admittedly, but if we’re going to stay up it’ll take those levels of sorcery to do it.

The question, then, is just how far does he go to ensure we try and win?

Players like Kazenga LuaLua were brought in to give us some added impetus in attack but he’s never started a game for us. And whilst we lost in our last outing, you couldn’t really level any criticism at our attacking midfielders - which makes it difficult for Chris Coleman when selecting his side and working out how he can get people like Joel Asoro in the team.

Are we just going to go all out from the off in a bid to out-score our opponents? I mean, it might work - more than once this season it has taken scoring three goals just to get a draw, so the task that Coleman finds himself up against is huge.

If his players can bring themselves to try and stay organised defensively then we have a chance, but having witnessed the state of us again on Monday I remain sceptical. What was promising though was that we looked alright going forward, and we have to build upon that if we’re to come away with anything.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Who plays in defence?

As I previously mentioned, we were horrible defensively on Monday and that has to be addressed immediately. Left-back Bryan Oviedo was tortured all afternoon by Sheffield Wednesday’s towering strikers and with Lasogga leading the line for Leeds today I’d be expecting the same sort of treatment, so it’s probably not a bad thing that the Costa Rica international is expected to miss out through injury.

After training i the last few days I’d like to think Lamine Kone will come back in, particularly since it was painfully obvious just how far off the pace Marc Wilson is in our last outing. Kone’s athleticism will be needed if we’re going to compete with Lasogga and that could be key.

Despite returning back from his two-game suspension, the less said about Jake Clarke-Salter the better. Having been irresponsible in his last two games I think we need to keep him as far away from the pitch as possible unless we’re desperately in need of a defender, in which case it’s begrudgingly acceptable to break the emergency glass.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Will the fight still be there?

We were great against Derby on Good Friday and then on Monday whilst we collapsed at the back, the players were clapped off the pitch at the end because their effort was duly noted.

Now that our fate looks sealed, though, will that same aggression and endeavor still be in their play, or will it be back to normal?

I guess we can’t answer that now, but I’d like to think that the players that still want to be a part of this club will recognise that they can’t give up now and must further stake their claim for a place in the side ahead of next season - Lynden Gooch, George Honeyman and Donald Love, I’m looking at you.

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