SUNDERLAND’S game against Aston Villa next month has been switched for live broadcast by Sky Sports.
The match, originally scheduled for Saturday, April 27 at Villa Park, will now take place on Monday, April 29, kick-off 8pm.
It is one of a string of games that have been switched in recent days.
The game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, April 6 has been moved back 24 hours to Sunday, April 7 with a 3pm kick-off, while the derby clash with Newcastle United has changed from Saturday, April 13 at 12.45pm to Sunday, April 14, kick-off midday.
But while Chelsea and Newcastle’s games have been moved because of the Blues and the Magpies involvement in European competition, the Aston Villa match has been switched because Sky recognise it as potentially one of the key fixtures in the battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League this season.
The match pits Martin O’Neill against Paul Lambert – the former Celtic boss facing his former Celtic captain – and also marks a return to his former club of Craig Gardner, whose brother Gary still plays for the Villans.
The game is the first Sunderland will play after their daunting quartet of matches against Manchester United, Chelsea, derby rivals Newcastle and bogey side Everton and the trip to Villa Park will mark the start of the run-in to the end of the Premier League season.
With Sunderland currently on 31 points and Villa on 30 – but Villa also facing a derby against Stoke and a trip to Man Utd in their next few fixtures – the likelihood is that both will still be among the relegation-threatened sides when they meet.
Sunderland will be seeking revenge for their game at the Stadium of Light in November when both sides performed dreadfully but the Villans sneaked a 1-0 win courtesy of Gaby Agbonlahor’s goal.
H Norwich’s attempt to have goalkeeper Mark Bunn’s red card at Sunderland overturned, has failed.
The Canaries were hoping referee Chris Foy’s decision to send the keeper off for handling outside his area as he charged towards Michael Turner’s back-header, would be rescinded.
Norwich’s argument was that the infringement was purely accidental but an FA independent regulatory commission upheld the decision and Bunn will now serve a one-match ban.