Fleetwood boss Simon Grayson could throw a curveball against Sunderland but is likely to stick with a winning formula
Sunderland are preparing for this weekend’s trip to Fleetwood in League One – but what can Lee Johnson’s side expect?
Fleetwood, managed by former Sunderland boss Simon Grayson, sit 17th in the table ahead of the match but did win 4-2 at Rotherham last time out.
We caught up with Fleetwood reporter Tom Sandells from our sister title the Blackpool Gazette to find out more about Saturday’s opponents.
How are Fleetwood shaping up ahead of this weekend's match?
TS: “They're getting there.
"They started the season poorly but were not playing too badly, performances have arguably dipped a little but they've started to get results.
“It was a big win against Rotherham where the two combined so that is a good sign of things to come.”
What formation are Fleetwood likely to play?
TS: “Since his arrival, Grayson has favoured a 3-5-2 but he is not against switching that up.
"It will likely depend on personnel as he has a couple of injuries at the moment. 4-3-3 isn't out of the question but he does generally prefer to go with two up top where possible.
"With Ged Garner and Callum Morton both scoring in the previous game, 3-5-2 is most likely.”
What's the latest team and injury news?
TS: “Grayson does not give much away when it comes to team news, which he will openly admit.
"They had a couple missing last week but guessing whether or not they could be back this week or not is a little pointless.
"Brad Halliday is out for the season but Callum Johnson was brought in on loan to replace him.”
What do the fans make of Grayson and how has he done?
TS: “The Fleetwood fans have taken to him well. He came in and steadied the ship when things were getting to be a bit of a mess towards the end of Joey Barton's time and the months following.
"He's a calming influence on the club and is open with the fans. He wants his side to the basics well and work hard and as fans in a working class town, it resonates.”
What is the aim for Fleetwood this season?
TS: “In short, survival - as is the aim of every team first and foremost. From there, they will see how it goes.
"Every side would like to think they can be in the top six come the end of the season but for the other six to eight side in with a shout this season, it will be disappointment.
"There has been a lot of change at the club, with Gryason coming in and an overhaul of the squad taking place.
“They have changed their approach too, focusing more on youth, so a season comfortably in the division, laying foundations would do nicely.”
Could you have a go at a predicted line-up?
TS: “It's tough, given that Grayson does like to throw in a curveball every now and then and keeps his team news to himself. I'll say he will play a similar side as last week."
Predicted Fleetwood XI: Cairns; Hill, Clarke, Andrew, C. Johnson, Rossiter, Biggins, Camps, Lane, G. Garner, Morton.