Five big talking points as Sunderland prepare to take on Sheffield Wednesday

Forestieri could make his return to the first team squad
Forestieri could make his return to the first team squad
Have your say

Sunderland make the trip to Hillsborough looking to build on their first three points of the season.

The 3-1 victory at Norwich has filled the Black Cats' faithful with confidence ahead of the trip to Sheffield Wednesday.

Wednesday themselves will be looking to secure their first victory of a campaign that has been marred by off the field problems.

There's plenty to talk about ahead of this clash, and we take a look at five questions that will likely be on the lips of the Owls and Black Cats' fans ahead of their meeting:

Will Simon Grayson stick or twist?

It's been a busy start to the season for Sunderland, with the trip to Hillsborough their fourth game in only 13 days.

Three of those games have come within a six day period, and Grayson may well feel the need to alter his squad to combat fatigue.

In an ideal world, the Sunderland boss would no doubt want to continue with the same starting lineup that impressed at Norwich.

And while the likes of Lewis Grabban and Aiden McGeady may prove difficult to rest after their impressive displays at Carrow Road, there are some areas open for rotation.

John O'Shea and Adam Matthews could both step in to the defence while Darron Gibson could step in for Didier Ndong after the Gabon international ran himself into the ground on Sunday.

Further up the field, Lynden Gooch and Wahbi Khazri could be options if Grayson wants to rest one of his more attack-minded players.

Ex-Black Cats to feature?

There are new fewer than three former Sunderland men in Wednesday's squad – and all of them are in with a chance of featuring.

Kieren Westwood has cultivated a reputation as one of the best goalkeepers outside the Premier League since moving to Hillsborough in 2014 and it would be a shock if the Republic of Ireland isn't between the sticks tomorrow night.

The stopper made 40 appearances during his time at the Stadium of Light and has featured in both of Wednesday's league games so far.

So has midfielder Ross Wallace who joined the Sheffield outfit in 2015 having previously enjoyed a three-year spell on Wearside between 2006 and 2009.

Wallace was consigned to the bench for the Owls' opening day defeat at Preston but returned to the starting line-up for the draw with QPR and may well keep his place in the side.

Steven Fletcher missed the visit of the R's with a knock, but Wednesday boss Carlos Carvahal has confirmed he could return against his former employers.

The Scot, who departed the Stadium of Light in 2016, has netted once this season in the Carabao Cup victory over Chesterfield.

With a wealth of striking options available though, it's not a given that Fletcher will step straight back into the side.

Can Sunderland make it back-to-back league wins?

You have to go back to November 2016 to find the last time Sunderland picked up back-to-back league wins.

In fact, the Black Cats have only managed two successive league victories on five occasions during the last three seasons.

That needs to change.

During the Wearsiders' last season in the Championship there were only four times where they failed to follow up a win with another three points and stringing together more good runs of form will be key this time around too.

Momentum is the aim of the game for Grayson's side – with a host of fixtures in a short space of time it's vital that Sunderland can stay on the winning trail.

Fernando Forestieri to return for Wednesday?

Wednesday's 1-1 draw with QPR at the weekend was overshadowed by rumours of a training ground bust-up between strike duo Sam Winnall and Fernando Forestieri.

Forestieri was left out of the squad while Winnall bagged the equaliser, but it seems likely the Italian will return for the Owls.

Carvahal has stated that there is no issue and that Forestieri is training with the squad as usual and his return could provide a big boost for the hosts.

The Hillsborough side have found the net only once in their two Championship games this season but the mercurial Forestieri could provide a dose of much-needed attacking flair.

If he returns, Sunderland will need to watch him carefully.

How will Sunderland fare with all this travelling?

The Black Cats have already travelled 712 miles in the last week thanks to trips to Bury and Norwich.

And while the journey to Hillsborough is hardly one of the longest trips of the season, it will be interesting to see how Grayson's side deal with all the travelling.

It's something many of the squad will be used to having played in the Championship before – the second tier often providing a hectic fixture schedule which is something many relegated sides prepare themselves for.

Whether Sunderland's work on conditioning their players for long journeys and packed schedules has been effective still remains to be seen, but it may well become clearer following the trip to Sheffield.