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Match Preview: The Leasing.com Trophy is back, and it starts with Sunderland v Grimsby!

Sunderland kick off their pulsating Leasing.com Trophy campaign with a home tie against Grimsby Town. Are you hyped for the occasion? I bet that you are.

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Checkatrade Trophy - Final - Wembley Stadium Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

Everyone’s favourite competition is back! Jack Ross has labelled it “irrelevant”, a lot of supporters forgot it was on and it’s got a shiny new sponsor.

Strap in everyone, because the Checkatra...sorry…the Leasing.com Trophy is back!

Grimsby Town are the visitors to the Stadium of Light and both sides will be looking to peg back runaway leaders of Northern Section Group A, Scunthorpe United, with victory.

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Checkatrade Trophy Final Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

George Dobson Says...

On the defeat at Lincoln:

When a result and performance is like that, you obviously have to address it but you can’t dwell on it. If you let the negativity creep in too much then the whole place can become too negative.

“You’ve got to think it is only one performance. It wasn’t good enough on Saturday, in terms of doing the basics and the fundamentals.

The boys have said it wasn’t good enough and those sort of performances can’t be repeated.

On the Grimsby game:

Obviously the priority is the league, but especially for players like me it’s a chance to stake my claim to get back in and prove I should be in the team.

For the whole team, it’s a chance to put a positive performance in place going into the international break. Every game you play you want be to going into wanting to win.

The game tomorrow is another opportunity to start a winning run. It’s another game of football where we can win and hopefully we’ll get that and start some momentum going into the league.

Burnley v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Team News

The calamity at Lincoln combined with the impending international fixtures, Jack Ross is expected to make a raft of changes to the starting XI.

Jon McLaughlin, Conor McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan have all been called up by Scotland and Northern Ireland, respectively, so there could be recalls for Dobson, Will Grigg, Alim Ozturk and Grant Leadbitter. It could also see a return to the team for youngster Benji Kimpioka and present a chance for other under-23 players to step up.

Jon McLaughlin’s absence gives Lee Burge a change to impress between the sticks once again. The former Coventry City man has kept Sunderland’s only clean sheet this season after a solid performance against Sheffield United in the League Cup. With McLaughlin at fault for another goal at Sincil Bank, another good showing against Grimsby could further Burge’s case for the number one jersey.

Sheffield United v Sunderland AFC - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

View From The Opposition

Much like Sunderland, success in the Leasing.com Trophy is pretty low down on the list of priorities for Grimsby Town. The Mariners lost their opening fixture to Scunthorpe but will more likely have designs on promotion from League Two, rather than a trip to Wembley to win a third tier cup competition.

After an Ethan Robson-inspired away win at league leaders Exeter City, Grimsby were downed by a last-minute winner against a 10-man Mansfield Town on Saturday. Manager Michael Jolley was far from his name suggested as he labelled referee Paul Marsden as “disappointing”.

There are some familiar faces among the Grimsby ranks alongside Robson - who is unavailable to face his parent club - as midfielder Jordan Cook is an Academy of Light graduate who featured three times under Steve Bruce, many moons ago.

Chelsea v Grimsby Town - Carabao Cup - Third Round - Stamford Bridge Photo by Simon Cooper/PA Images via Getty Images

Match Stats

Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Kick-off: 7.45pm
Referee: Steve Martin
Last season position: 17th (League Two)
Last season EFL Trophy: Knocked out at group stage

Last 5 results:

SAFC

(L1) Lincoln City (A) 0-2
(L1) MK Dons (H) 2-1
(LC) Sheffield United (A) 1-0
(L1) Bolton Wanderers (A) 1-1
(L1) Rotherham United (H) 1-1

GTFC

(L2) Mansfield Town (H) 0-1
(L2) Exeter City (A) 3-1
(LC) Chelsea (A) 1-7
(L2) Macclesfield Town (H) 1-0
(L2) Salford City (A) 0-1

The Mariners on Wearside

07 Nov 1998 (D1) Sunderland 3-1 Grimsby Town (Smith 2, Quinn)
27 Oct 1998 (LC) Sunderland 2-1 Grimsby Town (Bridges, Quinn)
24 Jan 1996 (D1) Sunderland 1-0 Grimsby Town (Ord)
30 Aug 1994 (D1) Sunderland 2-2 Grimsby Town (Goodman, P. Gray)
28 Sep 1993 (D1) Sunderland 2-2 Grimsby Town (Goodman, Ord)

Top goalscorers (in all competitions)

5 - James Hanson
3 - Jordan Cook
3 - Matt Green
3 - Ethan Robson
2 - Moses Ogbu

Chelsea v Grimsby Town - Carabao Cup - Third Round - Stamford Bridge Photo by Simon Cooper/PA Images via Getty Images

Last Time We Met

Sunderland and Grimsby have actually crossed paths in this competition before. Just two years ago, the sides played out an ethically correct 1-1 game with legends such as Donald Love, Brendon Galloway and Callum McMananman turning out for the Lads. A penalty shoot-out win gave Sunderland a memorable bonus point.

The Mariners haven’t graced Wearside since the autumn of 1998 when over 40,000 watched a Martin Smith brace and a Niall Quinn goal give the runaway leaders another three points. Mint days, them.

Soccer/Sunderland v Brimsby 1 Photo by Owen Humphreys - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images