How Sunderland’s promotion rivals Portsmouth, Luton and Barnsley could be affected by the international break

While Sunderland may be without a fixture over the international period, many of their League One rivals will be focused on maintaining a promotion push.

By Mark Donnelly
Tuesday, 19 March, 2019, 13:15

The Black Cats are set to go over a fortnight without a third tier fixture as four of their players prepare to jet off on international duty.

And, while many of their rivals will be in League One action, they will have to do without some key players during a pivotal run of fixtures.

Barnsley will be without key man Adam Davies during the international break

Barnsley and Luton will both be deprived of star performers as they face difficult opponents, knowing full well that dropped points will play perfectly into the hands of Jack Ross’ side.

We take a look at how international call-ups could affect Sunderland’s promotion rivals during the next round of fixtures:

Luton Town

The Hatters face a tricky test against play-off chasing Doncaster Rovers during the international break, but will have to navigate the clash without their top scorer.

While Aiden McGeady and Jimmy Dunne were snubbed, Luton’s James Collins was a somewhat surprise inclusion in Mick McCarthy’s first Republic of Ireland squad - having netted 20 times for the Hatters this season.

MORE: Additional tickets made available for Sunderland's trip to WembleyHe has netted double the amount of Luton’s next top scorer, Elliot Lee, suggesting his talismanic presence may well be missed when Doncaster visit Kenilworth Road.

Manager Mick Harford won’t be short of personnel to replace Collins with - the likes of Danny Hylton will be able to deputise - but whether they will able to fill the void left by the prolific striker remains to be seen.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Barnsley

While Collins is a big miss to Luton, the Tykes are arguably set to be without an even more influential figure for their visit to Walsall.

Daniel Stendel will have to do without goalkeeper Adam Davies, who is in line to make his Wales debut against Trinidad and Tobago.

The 26-year-old has conceded just six times since the turn of the year and has kept six consecutive clean sheets in a run which has helped to ensure Barnsley remain in the top two.

READ: Ex-Sunderland man Jack Colback admits his Newcastle United career is finishedAcademy graduate Jack Walton will likely deputise for the Tykes at the Banks’ Stadium and his lack of game time could prove a concern.

Also worrying for the South Yorkshire side will be the absence of another key man - with top scorer Kieffer Moore and midfielder Kenny Dougall already ruled-out for the campaign.

Portsmouth

Unlike the sides around them, Portsmouth shouldn’t be too heavily affected by the international break.

Kenny Jackett’s side saw just one player called up for international duty - forward Ronan Curtis - and he was later forced to withdraw after a freak finger injury.

That means Pompey will have near-enough a full squad for their trip to Shrewsbury Town as they look to close the gap on Sunderland.