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Match Preview: Can out-of-sorts Wimbledon upset the apple cart when they take on Sunderland?

Sunderland return to league duty aiming to make it four wins in a row against out of sorts AFC Wimbledon. Victory against the Dons could sends the Lads top, but can they do it?

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland welcome AFC Wimbledon to the Stadium of Light with the prospect of finishing the afternoon at the top of League One. The Lads are beginning to hit their stride after three consecutive wins in league and cup.

The Dons, conversely, have started the league campaign in wretched form and are still searching for their first win of the season after Tuesday’s last-minute defeat at Ipswich Town. Jack Ross’ side will see Saturday as an excellent chance to continue the winning run and should results go their way, could finish the day top of the table.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Jack Ross Says...

We recognise the importance of winning games at home.

We touched on how we can turn tight games into wins and on Saturday we will get back into our stadium after a performance and a result last weekend.

We want to continue that on Saturday.

It will be a difficult game, as every game is in this league, but I think the confidence and belief has grown in the players.

We’ve picked up some massive points recently and we want to continue that. Naturally, if we win the game on Saturday we will do that.

Sunderland v Portsmouth - Sky Bet League One Photo by Iam Burn/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Team News

Striker Marc McNulty remains sidelined with a hamstring issue picked up in the Portsmouth game but Jack Ross is hoping to have the Scotsman back for the trip to Peterborough next weekend.

Charlie Wyke is expected to lead the line again after bagging his second goal in three games against Rochdale. After an encouraging cameo from the bench at Spotland, Ross could be tempted to partner Wyke with Will Grigg, the January signing from Wigan Athletic is still in search of his first goal of the new campaign.

Aside from long-term absentees Duncan Watmore and Ethan Robson, Ross will have an almost fully-fit squad to choose from after Jack Baldwin returned to training after an illness.

Sunderland v Oxford United - Sky Bet League One Photo by Iam Burn/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

View from the opposition

AFC Wimbledon arrive on Wearside without a league win and find themselves hovering above the relegation zone after three defeats in their opening four games. A spirited performance at Ipswich Town last time out ultimately proved fruitless as a last gasp Kayden Jackson goal gave the Tractor Boys the three points.

Manager Wally Downes pulled off a miracle to keep the Dons in League One last year. The former Crazy Gang member took over from Neil Ardley in December with the club marooned at the bottom of the league. After a wobbly start, Wimbledon finished the campaign losing just once in their last 12 games.

The Kingsmeadow side could welcome back defender Will Nightingale and midfielder Anthony Wordsworth who both missed the game at Portman Road through injury.

Downes told the club’s official website:

We had a review of the Ipswich game this morning.

We showed them the good and the bad bits. It’s always good to clear the air. The team that played the majority of the game the other night didn’t do as much as the rest of the squad. I took the rest of the players this morning and they worked very well.

AFC Wimbledon v Milton Keynes Dons - Carabao Cup First Round Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Match stats

Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Kick-off: 3pm
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
Last season position: 20th (League One)

Last 5 results:

SAFC

(L1) Rochdale (A) 2-1
(L1) Portsmouth (H) 2-1
(LC) Accrington Stanley (A) 3-1
(L1) Ipswich Town (A) 1-1
(L1) Oxford United (H) 1-1

AFCW

(L1) Ipswich Town (A) 1-2
(L1) Accrington Stanley (H) 1-1
(LC) MK Dons (H) 2-2 (2-4 on penalties)
(L1) Fleetwood Town (A) 1-2
(L1) Rotherham United (H) 1-2

The Dons on Wearside

02 Feb 2019 (L1) Sunderland 1-0 AFC Wimbledon (McGeady)
20 Dec 2003 (D1) Sunderland 2-1 Wimbledon (Stewart, Proctor)
08 Apr 2000 (PL) Sunderland 2-1 Wimbledon (Quinn, Kilbane)
07 Dec 1996 (PL) Sunderland 1-3 Wimbledon (Melville)
23 Apr 1991 (D1) Sunderland 0-0 Wimbledon

Top goalscorers (in all competitions)

2 - Luke O’Neill
1 - Kwesi Appiah
1 - Joe Piggot
1 - Scott Wagstaff

AFC Wimbledon v Milton Keynes Dons - Carabao Cup First Round Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Last Time We Met

Sunderland eschewed their lustful obsession with a 1-1 draw in early February with an arduous 1-0 victory over the Dons. The Lads were in the midst of five 1-1 draws in six games as their promotion push began to splutter.

On a bitterly cold afternoon on Wearside, a moment of magic from Aiden McGeady gave the home side the win before they drew the following two games 1-1.

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images