I hope the Sunderland players have enjoyed their break and are fully rested and refreshed because there is a tough week ahead with away games at Shrewsbury Town and Doncaster Rovers coming up.
With Sunderland’s last league game being away at Bradford and now two games to come on the road, that makes it three consecutive away league games, which is ideally not what you want.
But Sunderland have travelled well this season with just one defeat so they shouldn’t fear either of their next two opponents.
On paper it looks like the Doncaster game will be more difficult but first up are Shrewsbury T and as they are currently in the bottom half of the league, Sunderland should be targeting this game for a win.
I am well aware that you can’t just turn up at any away game in this league and stroll to three points, so Sunderland will have to battle and scrap for everything, showing the desire they did at Bradford because if they are to get into the top two the bar must be set high and the players must refuse to settle for second best.
Shrewsbury aren’t exactly prolific scorers, they have only 11 goals to their name so far this campaign in 13 games. Compare that to Sunderland’s 24 in a game less, with Josh Maja having nine himself.
However, the goals against column for our opponents is much more impressive.
They have only conceded 13 and that suggests they are defensively well organised and could prove difficult to break down.
So, I hope Jack Ross puts out an attacking team; I love it when Sunderland are bold and put down a marker although the injury list will obviously have a bearing on his starting XI.
Of course there are suspensions as well; Bryan Oviedo and Max Power will be missing and that is just plain annoying, the manager has got to be frustrated beyond belief that two of his best and most experienced players aren’t available to him due to personal lapses that I am sure were out of character.
While Sunderland were not in action last weekend, most of the other teams at the top took advantage and won their games pushing Sunderland down the table through no fault of their own.
That just makes Saturday’s game even more important as we can’t afford to slip down any further.