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Match Preview: Sunderland vs Fleetwood Town

Sunderland kick off a pivotal week in their bid to return to the Championship by welcoming an in-form Fleetwood Town to Wearside. Can the Lads finally get one over the Cod Army and boss Joey Barton?

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

The red and white machine keeps on rolling with Bristol Rovers the latest League One jobbers to be gobbled up and spewed out, as Sunderland’s relentless march to the Championship continues. Phil Parkinson’s gorgeous boys have won four games on the bounce, but face a testing week against an in-form Fleetwood Town and then a fake derby game away at Coventry City.

The Trawlermen arrive on Wearside with five consecutive wins under their belt and, as always, a gobshite manager in the opposite dugout.

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

Parky Says...

There can be no let up. We enjoyed the winning feeling at the weekend, and we want it again. We will have to be at our very best to achieve it.

The Lads are driving themselves on. There is a desire in the group to keep going and they are a pleasure to work with.

Tomorrow is about what happens on the pitch. I don’t want to be talking at the end about this or that, let’s just get the job done. We know what we have got to do so let’s go and do it. If we do that, we have a great chance of getting the points.

Oxford United v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Team News

Parkinson doesn’t have any fresh injury concerns ahead of the Fleetwood game and will most likely stick to an unchanged team. Joel Lynch, however, is back in contention after being injured at Portsmouth at the beginning of February.

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

View From The Opposition

Thoughts of Fleetwood enjoying a fairly routine, mid-table campaign have been blown out of the water in recent months, as Joey Barton’s side have barged their way into the play-off picture. The Cod Army have lost just once since mid-December and have won their last five games.

A testing run that has seen them face Coventry, Wycombe Wanderers, Peterborough United and Portsmouth has yielded 10 points, and Barton will no doubt be aching for a win at the Stadium of Light. Once again, they’re talismanic forward Paddy Madden leads from the front, and has so far racked up an impressive 16 goals in all competition.

Speaking after the recent win over Portsmouth, Barton told the club’s official website:

We are that stage where we are thinking, who is next? We go to Sunderland on Tuesday night with nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain. When you have the team we’ve got, when you have the unity that we have got running through the football club, you embrace those challenges.

As a group we know we won’t win all those challenges, we are sensible enough to know that but it’s the way and the manner in which we go about it, and as I say, I have never come in and said the lads have not tried, or gone in hard for each other.

Wycombe Wanderers v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Match Stats

Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Kick-off: 7.45pm
Referee: Scott Oldham
Current position: 6th
Last season position: 11th (League One)

Last 5 results:

SAFC

(L1) Bristol Rovers (H) 3-0
(L1) Oxford United (A) 1-0
(L1) Rochdale (H) 3-0
(L1) Ipswich Town (H) 1-0
(L1) Portsmouth (A) 0-2

FTFC

(L1) Portsmouth (H) 1-0
(L1) Peterborough United (H) 2-1
(L1) Wycombe Wanderers (A) 1-0
(L1) AFC Wimbledon (A) 2-1
(L1) Doncaster Rovers (H) 2-1

The Trawlermen on Wearside

08 Sep 2018 (L1) Sunderland 1-1 Fleetwood Town (Maja)

Top goalscorers (in all competitions)

16 - Paddy Madden
9 - Ched Evans
8 - Josh Morris
3 - Conor McAleny
2 - Danny Andrew

Fleetwood Town v Peterborough United - Sky Bet League One Photo by Kevin Barnes - CameraSport via Getty Images

Last Time We Met

Sunderland’s first-ever encounter with Fleetwood arrived last season, when both Josh Maja and Jon McLaughlin had to bail out Jack Ross’ side. Maja bagged an equaliser while McLaughlin saved a spot kick to give old Rossy Boy his much beloved 1-1.

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