Key issues facing Sunderland as they look to end home hoodoo against Cardiff City

Defender Marc Wilson should hopefully make a return to the Sunderland starting line-up.
Defender Marc Wilson should hopefully make a return to the Sunderland starting line-up.

Sunderland’s dismal home record has been well documented.

The club’s long-suffering fans have had next to nothing to cheer at the Stadium of Light since the win over Watford back on December 17.

So, how do they go about ending it against Cardiff City? We look at three key areas and selection issues.

Injuries permitting, play the same defence that faced Hull City:

Sunderland’s defence in the 3-0 defeat to Everton was as makeshift as they come, made up of three right backs and Lamine Kone.

Grayson admitted afterwards team selection - in part down to injuries and ineligible players - was with one eye on the huge game against Cardiff.

Marc Wilson missed the game as a precaution after suffering tightness in his groin, his return is important.

With Adam Matthews at right-back and Bryan Oviedo left-back, Grayson had stumbled across his best defence in the game against Hull City.

Provided Wilson makes it, that defence will give Sunderland a firm base from which to build on with Oviedo and Matthews offering width down the flanks, though Matthews’ final ball needs work.

Did any of the six changes do enough to earn a start?

Grayson made half a dozen changes against Everton with Jason Steele, Donald Love, Billy Jones, Darron Gibson, Jack Rodwell and Lynden Gooch handed starts.

Grayson was hardly glowing in his praise when asked whether any of them had done enough to keep their place.

Steele made a superb double stop to deny Dominic Calvert-Lewin but Robbin Ruiter will surely come back in, while neither Love or Jones will force Grayson into a defensive reshuffle.

Neither Gibson, Rodwell or Gooch particularly caught the eye, with Rodwell disappointing in an advanced role. Callum McManaman, Lee Cattermole and Jonny Williams will all return.

More support needed for James Vaughan.

Sunderland need to get off to a good start against Cardiff City, attacking Neil Warnock’s side from the off.

Vaughan, a £500,000 summer signing, cut a frustrated figure at Goodison Park leading the line by himself.

Gooch, Rodwell and George Honeyman didn’t do enough to support him, Grayson will expect better when McManaman, Williams and McGeady - if fit - return.

More balls into the box for him to attack and more bodies around him to pick up on the loose balls and knock-downs.

Hard work and a willingness to attack is a must if Sunderland are to end their home hoodoo.

Predicted team: Ruiter, Matthews, Wilson, Kone, Oviedo, McManaman, Cattermole, Ndong, McGeady, Williams, Vaughan.