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Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Roker Roundtable: Has the World Cup break come at a good time for Sunderland?

Having won on Friday night and with three weeks until our next game, can the Lads use this time productively ahead of the season recommencing?

Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Kev Barker says…

Yes!

We need to get our key players back and match fit, and we can also use the break to work on how to utilise them best, as well as trying out new formations and set piece routines.

I can see us kicking on in the New Year and pushing for the playoffs if we have better luck with injuries and referees.

I honestly don’t know what team we will play when everyone is fit but it’s a good problem to have and we need the reinforcements as the league is getting very tight and competitive. It’s notoriously hard over the festive period, but with the strength in depth we have and going into it fresh, we are well-placed to kick on.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Jon Guy says...

It’s come at the right time.

Injuries have hit us hard, and to get some or all of the players back will be a massive boost. The key will be to keep the squad match fit over the coming weeks, and we need to maintain the momentum from the win at Birmingham.

We also have to hope we can sort Ross Stewart’s contract out and get that weight off our backs. If we have a full squad to choose from when the league restarts, we can be competitive, and you never know where we may end up.

If we win our game in hand, the top six is well in reach, so I think the break will benefit us.

Sunderland v Rotherham United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Phil West says...

Ordinarily, the idea of a break in the on-field action after a superb victory would be a bit frustrating, but I think it’s come at an ideal time.

Winning at Birmingham on Friday was key, in order to send us into the break on a positive note, and when we take to the field against Millwall next time out, Tony Mowbray ought to be able to choose from as close to a fully-fit squad as he’s had during his time at the club.

Having the likes of Aji Alese, Dan Ballard, Dennis Cirkin and Ross Stewart back is an exciting prospect, and they’ll all have key roles to play when the action recommences.

I also think this is a good chance for the players to take stock of how they’ve adapted to life in the Championship.

It’s been a full-on past couple of months, with lots of tough games, and there have been some real challenges along the way. However, they’ve generally acquitted themselves very well, and I’m sure they’ll all be eager to keep improving as the season continues.

We’ve already equalled our disgracefully meagre win total from the 2017/2018 season before the Christmas decorations have gone up, and there’s definitely a lot more to come.

The trip to Dubai ought to be beneficial as well.

It’ll give the team some more time to bond, and Mowbray and his staff will doubtless be working on patterns of play and ideas that can be put into practice.

There are areas in which we can be better, particularly when defending set pieces, and this is an ideal opportunity to address them and ensure that we learn the lessons from some of the times we’ve been caught out so far.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

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