IT’S the second local derby in less than a fortnight; providing another opportunity to tweak the performance and get the right result.
It doesn’t compare to potentially beating Newcastle but making the next round of the cup at the expense of Middlesbrough would be sweet.
Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray has the Championship side on a roll at the minute. They’ll be full of confidence, unlike Sunderland, so this will be a tough test. Last season’s FA Cup exit will still be playing on Mowbray’s mind for his team talk no doubt.
This has to be a game where we take the upper hand and match to the opposition. This should be Cattermole’s and Johnson’s chance to prove their class against their former team. Gradually Johnson is starting to find his feet. But so far this season few have stepped up to the plate when it’s been expected.
Martin O’Neill has the opportunity to rest a couple of players for this one. But he’ll probably use the match as a great chance to finally coax the best out of his favoured line-up.
A fired up Middlesbrough’s bound to cause us problems but this must be the game we turn the corner.
Prediction: Sunderland 2 Middlesbrough 1.
To read the rest of the Echo Jury, please see tonight’s Sunderland Echo.