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Match Preview: Can Sunderland progress in the EFL Cup against tough opponents this evening?

After coming from behind to secure a 3-1 win at Burnley in the last round, can Sunderland repeat the feat by beating the Premier League’s tenth placed side tonight?

Sheffield United v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

James Fowler Says...

It won’t be an easy game. Like Burnley in the previous round they are doing great in the top league and it is going to be another tough ask for us but it is one we are looking forward to.

With the size of the squad they have they will make changes. Chris Wilder has got a really strong squad with competition for place throughout.

They will be on their game on Wednesday night and it will be tough but it is one we are looking forward to.

The squad’s not massive at the minute. Maybe one or two of the 23s may feature. Aiden will miss out. He’s a definite. Joel Lynch and De Bock may get a chance.

There’s less expectation when you’re facing a team two leagues above. We were frustrated to not win [at Bolton] but we must stick together because anything we do this season will be a collective effort.

It’s important as players and staff that we stick together and hopefully the fans come along with us.

It takes time to change a certain culture but I know how hard the manager works behind the scenes to bring success to this club.

People forget the state of the club 16, 17 months ago and Jack has made the place better and has the drive to make players better.

Burnley v Sunderland - Carabao Cup - Second Round - Turf Moor Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Team News

In the last round of the EFL Cup, Jack Ross rang the changes for the trip to Premier League Burnley. Eight players came in that day - Lee Burge, Tom Flanagan, Jack Baldwin, Denver Hume, Dylan McGeough, George Dobson, Elliot Embleton and Will Grigg.

Since then Jack Baldwin has moved to Salford City, whilst Flanagan, Hume, Dobson and Grigg were all part of the side that drew at Bolton at the weekend. It would be a shock if Ross trusts tonight’s game to the full quartet.

There is an expectation that Burge, McGeouch and Embleton would come into the manager’s thinking tonight, whilst James Fowler hinted at the press conference that new signings Joel Lynch and Laurens De Bock are likely to involved in tonight’s squad. The likes of Max Power, Marc McNulty and Charlie Wyke will also be pressing their claims to start at Bramall Lane.

Duncan Watmore remains unavailable whilst Fowler confirmed that Aiden McGeady and probably Jordan Willis will miss the cup-tie due to injury. Alim Ozturk, who only made the bench for the trip to Bolton on Saturday, is still carrying a knock and remains a doubt to start tonight.

Burnley v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Second Round
Lee Burge is likely to start tonight’s cup game in goal for Sunderland
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

View from the opposition

Chris Wilder has indicated that his Sheffield United squad is showing a relatively clean bill of health as things stand. Aside from David McGoldrick, who missed the Everton game at the weekend, Kean Bryan is the only other injured player.

In truth, neither player will be a huge loss for the Blades. Chris Basham, John Egan and Jack O’Connell have established themselves as the first choice defensive three, whilst both Phil Jagielka and Richard Stearman come into contention this evening. Simlarly, up front Wilder can call on either Callum Robinson, who started alongside Oli McBurnie at Goodison Park, or scorer of their second goal, Lys Mousset, this evening.

With one eye on a tough game against Liverpool at the weekend, Wilder may rotate his squad. Yet the Bramall Lane boss will also know the importance of progressing in the cup against lower league opposition and building momentum to keep United flying high in the Premier League.

Everton FC v Sheffield United - Premier League
Former Sunderland Academy product, John Egan, has made a positive impression in the Premier League with Sheffield United
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Match stats

Venue: Bramall Lane, Sheffield
Kick-off: 7.45pm
Referee: Tim Robinson
Last season position: 2nd (Championship)

Last 5 results:

SAFC

(L1) Bolton Wanderers (A) 1-1
(L1) Rotherham United (H) 1-1
(L1) Accrington Stanley (A) 3-1
(L1) Peterborough United (A) 0-3
(LC) Burnley (A) 3-1

SUFC

(PL) Everton (A) 2-0
(PL) Southampton (H) 0-1
(PL) Chelsea (A) 2-2
(LC) Blackburn Rovers (H) 2-1
(PL) Leicester City (H) 1-2

The Lads at Bramall Lane

26 Dec 2017 (CH) Sheffield United 3-0 Sunderland
28 Sep 2004 (CH) Sheffield United 1-0 Sunderland
04 Oct 2003 (D1) Sheffield United 0-1 Sunderland (Kyle)
03 Dec 2002 (LC) Sheffield United 2-0 Sunderland
28 Nov 1998 (D1) Sheffield United 0-4 Sunderland (Quinn 2, Bridges 2)

Sunderland in the League Cup 3rd Round

2017/18 Everton 3-0 Sunderland
2016/17 Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Sunderland (McNair 2)
2015/16 Sunderland 1-4 Manchester City (Toivonen)
2014/15 Sunderland 1-2 Stoke City (Altidore)
2013/14 Sunderland 2-0 Peterborough United (Giaccherini, Roberge)

Top goalscorers (in all competitions)

1 - John Lundstrem
1 - Oli McBurnie
1 - Billy Sharp
1 - Callum Robinson
1 - Oliver Norwood

Sheffield United v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Last Time We Met

The last time these two sides met was in the 2017/18 Championship season.

In early September, Clayton Donaldson scored twice at the Stadium of Light on his Sheffield United debut to condemn Simon Grayson’s Sunderland to a third consecutive Championship defeat.

The Blades secured the double over Sunderland with a comfortable 3-0 home win on Boxing Day.

The last time the sides met in this competition was in 2002, for a League Cup tie at Bramall Lane. Two goals in two minutes just after half-time ensured the home side secured their place in the next round and left Howard Wilkinson’s side licking their wounds on the trip back to Wearside.

In fact, Sunderland have won only once at Bramall Lane this millennium, thanks to a Kevin Kyle goal in a 1-0 win back in 2003.

Soccer - AXA FA Cup - Quarter Final - Sunderland v Sheffield United
Kevin Kyle was the last player to secure victory for Sunderland at Bramall Lane
Photo by John Walton/EMPICS via Getty Images