The story of the day as Sunderland drop points in end-to-end draw with Lincoln City
Sunderland are looking to extend their ten-game unbeaten run as Lincoln City come to the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats picked up another vital three points in their quest for promotion at Accrington Stanley on Wednesday and could move into the top two if results go their way today having strung together an impressive run of form of late.
But in Lincoln, they face a side who themselves still harbour ambitions of promotion and have already shocked some of the division’s biggest sides this term.
Lee Johnson will have to decide whether to hand a start to Ross Stewart after his impressive cameo in midweek, while the Imps could be without some of their key men for the big game.
Our team of writers will be at the Stadium of Light throughout the afternoon, bringing you the latest from the game that could have big ramifications at the top of the third tier.
FT: Sunderland AFC 1-1 Lincoln City (McFadzean 40; Morton 63)
Last updated: Saturday, 20 March, 2021, 14:48
- Sunderland welcome Lincoln City to the Stadium of Light looking to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games in all competitions.
- The Black Cats could put further pressure on the top two with victory today.
- Lee Johnson will have to decide whether to hand Ross Stewart a full debut after his impressive cameo in midweek.
- Full team news is expected at 2pm.
And welcome to our live blog!
The games keep coming thick and fast - but we’ve got no complaints given the form Sunderland are in!
Unbeaten in ten in all competitions, grinding out the wins on a regular basis and climbing towards the top two - it’s a great time for the Black Cats, and long may it continue.
But today they will face a stern test of their promotion credentials in the form of Lincoln City, who themselves still harbor ambitions of promotion.
Our team will be bringing you the latetst from the game throughout the day - so let’s get cracking...
Here’s the state of play in League One ahead of kick-off
Sunderland could climb into the top two if they win today (and provided other results go their way...)
And here’s the rest of the fixtures in League One today. All are 3pm kick-offs, unless stated:
- Portsmouth v Ipswich (1pm)
- Fleetwood Town v Swindon Town
- Plymouth Argyle v Bristol Rovers
- Northampton Town v Crewe Alexandra
- Accrington Stanley v Wigan Athletic
- AFC Wimbledon v Charlton Athletic
- Burton Albion v MK Dons
- Shrewsbury Town v Hull City
- Oxford United v Blackpool
- Gillingham v Doncaster Rovers
- Rochdale v Peterborough United
Lincoln are sweating on some key men...
Lincoln City have been rocked by the news that influential striker Tom Hopper is set to be sidelined for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.
Michael Appleton is also sweating over the fitness of both his key centre-halves ahead of the visit to Sunderland on Saturday afternoon.
Hopper has made 40 appearances for Lincoln this season but faces a race against time to play any further part in the push for automatic promotion.
“It isn’t particularly good news,” Appleton said.
“He had his scan last night and it’s going to be a six-to-eight-week job.
“It probably looks like his season’s done.”
Both Adam Jackson and Lewis Montsma missed training on Thursday, with Appleton previously stating that Jackson would have to come out of the side at some stage due to an ongoing calf concern.
Could we see a full debut for Ross Stewart today?
The Scottish striker impressed off the bench on Wednesday evening and, together with Charlie Wyke, proved a real handful for the Accrington defence.
But by Stewart’s own admission he is still not at peak fitness, so Lee Johnson will have to decide carefully whether to hand the towering frontman a first start today.
Our writer names his side for today’s game...
Our football writer Mark Donnelly has had his say on the team selection dilemmas facing Lee Johnson today - and has picked his team for the clash...
‘Given his impressive cameo in midweek, it would be hard not to start Ross Stewart - even with fitness concerns. I’d hand him a full debut and also restore Josh Scowen to the side, starting in the 4-4-2 that has served the Black Cats well in recent weeks.’
Mark Donnelly’s XI: Burge; Power, O’Nien, Sanderson, Vokins; Gooch, Scowen, Winchester, McGeady; Wyke, Stewart
Will Jake Vokins retain his place in the team?
The left-back put in his best performance since joining the club at Accrington, and will no doubt be pushing for another start this afternoon.
And Jamie McAllister has lifted the lid on the extra work being done by the Southampton loanee as he looks to force his way into the team on a consistent basis.
Jamie McAllister believes Sunderland will see the benefits of the extra work Jake Vokins has been doing behind the scenes in the weeks ahead.
What area the odds for Sunderland v Lincoln City?
League One title sponsors SkyBet have Sunderland as heavy favourites for the game at 17/20.
Lincoln City are priced at 3/1 while the draw is 12/5.
Charlie Wyke is once again favourite to open the scoring at 13/5.
The latest injury news from both camps
Here’s how the two squads are shaping-up ahead of the game...
Lee Johnson is likely to call upon the same squad that was available at Accrington.
Aiden O’Brien and Denver Hume have trained this week, but the clash with the Imps may come too soon for them.
Tom Flanagan, Bailey Wright and Jordan Jones are still a few weeks away from a return - while Jordan Willis and Arbenit Xhemajli are longer-term absentees.
Michael Appleton will definitely be without striker Tom Hopper, midfielder Jorge Grant and defender Joe Walsh.
Fellow defenders Adam Jackson and Lewis Montsma are also doubts.
How can I watch Sunderland v Lincoln City? Is there a live stream?
Yes - today’s game will be streamed via Sunderland’s official streaming service.
Passes are available for £10 and can be purchased at safc.com.
BREAKING: THE TEAM NEWS IS IN!
And here’s how Sunderland line-up: Burge; McLaughlin, O’Nien, Sanderson, McFadzean; Power, Leadbitter, Winchester; Gooch, McGead, Wyke
And on the bench: Matthews, Maguire, Scowen, Diamond, Neil, Stewart, Younger
So that’s two changes from midweek as Leadbitter and McFadzean come in for Diamond and Vokins.
It looks like a change in shape too, and a 4-3-3 for the Black Cats.
Here’s the teams in full
And there’s an injury boost for Lincoln, whose two central defenders are both passed fit to play.
Sunderland are out to warm-up!
And they enter the pitch as the sun beams down on the Stadium of Light (it’s still freezing, mind).
No sign of Jake Vokins here - he’s obviously out of the squad today, but no word as of yet if that’s a tactical decision or one that came after an injury.
A tactical hint?
Sunderland are warming-up as a back four at the moment, with McLaughlin on the right, McFadzean on the left and O’Nien and Sanderson centrally.
They played three at the back in midweek, but we’re expecting a 4-3-3 today.
Not long to go now!
Sunderland are back down the tunnel - and are quickly followed by Lincoln.
Kick-off is quickly approaching now!