Inside the Cheltenham Town camp ahead of Sunderland Stadium of Light clash: Injuries, tactics and team news with visitors wary of 'excellent' Carl Winchester
Sunderland look to extend their winning run at the Stadium of Light tonight when Cheltenham Town visit Wearside.
But Gloucestershire Live’s Robins reporter Jon Palmer has warned that any complacency could see the Black Cats undone – by a visiting manager who has been a ‘revelation’ – and danger man Kyle Joseph.
Tipped by many to struggle badly following promotion, Cheltenham sit 14th in League One under manager Michael Duff.
“He has been a revelation so far, transforming the club’s fortunes beyond all expectations,” said Palmer.
“He looks on course to manage at a higher level, but hopefully Cheltenham can keep him for a bit longer!”
On the Robins’ start to the season, Palmer added: “It’s been positive overall.
"Impressive wins over Ipswich, Charlton and Oxford, and scoring in every game until Wigan, who were a cut above on Saturday.
“But stepping up from League Two, it’s been encouraging so far.”
And Palmer pinpointed young striker Joseph as the injury-hit visitors’ key threat.
“He’s on loan from Swansea, having done well for Wigan last season to earn the move.
“He’s just 20, and has been quick and lively so far, scoring his debut goal versus MK Dons.”
Palmer expects Cheltenham to line up in a 3-5-2 formation, adding: “Trying to play out and keep it on the deck but also physically strong and able to mix it up when needed.”
But he is still leaning towards a Sunderland victory and another impressive showing from Carl Winchester, who shone in almost 18 months with Cheltenham before joining derby rivals Forest Green in the summer of 2018.
“It’s a tough ask after trips to Preston and Wigan in the last few days. Cheltenham will give a good account of themselves but I expect a 2-0 home win, with some key men missing with injury not helping their chances of an upset.
“Will Boyle and Callum Wright are both out, Charlie Raglan is also out and Kyle Vassell is a doubt.”
On in-form Winchester, Palmer said: “He was a class act during his time at Cheltenham, whether in midfield or at right-back.
“He’s comfortable at right-back, but more effective in midfield, and that’s his preferred role. But he’s just an excellent footballer.
“it was no surprise to me when Lee Johnson re-signed him, having worked with him at Oldham.
“He’s a nice guy too. He will get some stick from Cheltenham fans for leaving to join rivals Forest Green Rovers, but he’s a player I always enjoy watching as he makes it look easy.”