Gary Rowell: Crucial week for Sunderland – and how I envy Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace's Connor Wickham (left) and Sunderland's Younes Kaboul
Crystal Palace's Connor Wickham (left) and Sunderland's Younes Kaboul
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Sunderland are in the middle of a crucial week.

There is a League Cup tie against QPR and then a huge Premier League game against Crystal Palace to follow on Saturday.

It is obvious that in Sunderland’s position, David Moyes will pick his cup team with the Palace game in mind, and that probably means key players missing out and squad players filling in.

That is another consequence to a terrible start to the season.

Imagine if Sunderland were riding high or even mid-table, they could have a real go at the cups.

But when you are second bottom of the league, any injuries to major players just makes a desperate situation in the Premier League even worse.

Hopefully, whatever team Moyes puts out can make progress as another defeat certainly won’t help dressing room morale or improve the mood of increasingly frustrated supporters.

As soon as the cup tie is over, all thoughts will turn to the Palace game and as we have another home fixture against West Brom the following week, it is a huge opportunity that Sunderland cannot afford to waste.

Palace won’t be easy, though.

As a Sunderland fan I have looked on in envy as they have spent huge money in the transfer window on proven Premier League players like Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend and Loic Remy, who although on loan won’t have come cheap.

They were also in for Jack Wilshere and all of this proves the huge ambition of the club and desire to have Crystal Palace up with the elite.

Former Sunderland striker Connor Wickham returned to Wearside last season with not many goals to his name, then duly scored a double.

But he has gone down in the pecking order at Palace after their spending spree and is likely to be on the bench.

Sunderland find themselves in their usual relegation spot at this time of the year, but progress in the cup and three points against Palace would go some way to making up for it and finally get the season moving.