The story of the day as Sunderland extend their unbeaten run with win at Bristol Rovers
Sunderland travel to Bristol Rovers this afternoon looking to continue the fine run of form that has brought them back into promotion contention.
An 11-game unbeaten run in all competitions has seen the Black Cats move within touching distance of the top two, and they could climb into the automatic promotion places today should Peterborough United slip-up.
Lee Johnson will have to decide whether to stick or twist against a Bristol Rovers side who are now managed by Joey Barton – who is unbeaten in all six of his games against Sunderland as a manager.
The Black Cats face a busy Easter schedule with some key games, so will be hopeful of a win in the South West to kick-start a positive fortnight.
Phil Smith and Mark Donnelly are at the Memorial Stadium and will be bringing you in-depth coverage of the game – from team news to match updates and manager reaction.
FT: Bristol Rovers 0-1 Sunderland AFC (O’Brien 39)
Last updated: Saturday, 27 March, 2021, 14:29
- Sunderland travel to the Memorial Stadium to face Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers this afternoon (3pm kick-off)
- The Black Cats will be looking to continue their 11-game unbeaten run in all competitions
- Lee Johnson could rotate his side ahead of some key fixtures over the Easter weekend
- Full team news is expected at 2pm
And welcome to our live blog!
After a rare midweek without a game, Sunderland are back in action this afternoon as they travel to face Bristol Rovers.
The Gas are struggling at the wrong end of the table but in Joey Barton they have a manager with a strong record against the Black Cats during his managerial career.
It promises to be an intriguing afternoon, so stick with us for the latest as the afternoon progresses - with Phil Smith and Mark Donnelly in position to bring you all the major updates...
Here’s how League One looks ahead of today’s fixtures...
And should results go their way today, Sunderland could climb into the top two for the first time since April 2019!
It’s a slightly depleted League One schedule today due to international call-ups, but here’s the fixtures taking place today:
- Hull City v Gillingham
- Blackpool v Plymouth Argyle
- Wigan Athletic v Ipswich Town
- MK Dons v Doncaster Rovers
- Peterborough United v Accrington Stanley
- AFC Wimbledon v Northampton Town
- Shrewsbury Town v Portsmouth
Joey Barton has been discussing Sunderland again
Of course he has!
The former Newcastle United man can’t resist talking about the Black Cats, but this time his pre-match comments aren’t filled with the usual jibes...
Barton is unbeaten in his six games against the Black Cats as a manager, and is preparing to face the side again with Bristol Rovers this afternoon.
But he will face a Sunderland squad who, under Johnson, are in the midst of a fine run of form and are climbing closer to the top two.
And the manager says he has been impressed by the club’s form in recent weeks – but also reserved praise for former managers Phil Parkinson and Jack Ross, while saying it is ‘about time’ Sunderland ‘got their act together.’
Read his full thoughts below:
'About time they got their act together!' Joey Barton offer this verdict on Sunderland's recent form
Joey Barton says he feels Sunderland have turned a corner under Lee Johnson – as he looks to continue his fine run against the Wearsiders.
What are the odds for Bristol Rovers v Sunderland?
The bookmakers have Sunderland as favourties to win today’s game, and the Black Cats can be backed at 3/4 to take the three points.
Bristol Rovers are outsiders at 7/2, while the draw is 5/2.
There’s no surprises who the bookies are backing to score first either, with Charlie Wyke the favourite at 13/5.
Lee Johnson has been speaking ahead of the game
Of course, the Sunderland head coach is no stranger to Bristol having managed City for several years.
And Johnson has offered his take on the blue half of the city ahead of the game.
They’re fighting for their lives, and I think Joey Barton is an ideal man for them to have at the helm during this time as he’s been a winner throughout his career.
I was at the game on Tuesday as they faced Swindon, and it was a scrappy, committed affair between the sides. Bristol Rovers were really unlucky to lose. As ever in this division, you have to be at your very best to get the result.
Could this be the Sunderland side that starts today?
Our writer Mark Donnelly has offered his take on the team selection dilemmas facing Lee Johnson today - and has predicted two changes for the side.
Sunderland travel to Bristol Rovers looking to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 12 games.
The latest team news from Sunderland and Bristol Rovers...
Here’s how the two squads are shaping-up ahead of the game...
The Black Cats will select from near enough the same squad that was available to face Lincoln City last weekend.
While the likes of Bailey Wright, Denver Hume, Jordan Jones and Tom Flanagan are all moving towards a return, this game is likely to come too soon for them.
Arbenit Xhemajli and Jordan Willis are long-term absentees, while Conor McLaughlin is away on international duty with Northern Ireland and will miss the game.
The Gas could be without as many as SIX key players this afternoon.
Sam Nicholson, Abu Ogog and Max Ehmer are all set to miss the rest of the season through injury.
Anssi Jaakola, Ed Upson and Alex Rodman are all sidelined too, with this game set to be too early for a potential return.
Can I stream Bristol Rovers v Sunderland?
Yes - Sunderland’s trip to Bristol Rovers will be available to stream on safc.com.
Streaming passes can be purchased for £10.
Some pre-match transfer news!
Benji Kimpioka has been allowed to join Torquay United on loan.
Here’s what Kristjaan Speakman said about the deal:
Sunderland youngster Benji Kimpioka has joined Torquay United on loan.
Our team are in place at the Memorial Stadium!
Sunderland are here!
The squad have arrived at the Memorial Stadiumn.
It’s pretty much the squad you would expect, plus Aiden O’Brien is here as he steps-up his injury return.
No sign of Jordan Jones, who Lee Johnson said was 70-30 against to be involved.
BREAKING: THE TEAM NEWS IS IN!
And here’s how Sunderland line-up today: Burge; Power, O’Nien, Sanderson, McFadzean; Gooch, Winchester, Scowen, McGeady; Wyke, O’Brien
And on the bench: Matthews, Maguire, Diamond, Leadbitter, Neil, Stewart, Younger
That’s two changes from the Lincoln draw as O’Brien and Scowen come in for McLaughlin and Leadbitter.
It’s likely to be a 4-4-2 for Sunderland, with O’Brien up top alongside Wyke.
Here’s how the hosts line-up...
And they’ve received a boost as goalkeeper Annsi Jaakkola returns.
Sunderland are out to warm-up.
And the sun is beaming down here in the South West - it’s a lovely day!
Interestingly, Josh Hawkes is here with the Sunderland squad. He’s travelled as the extra man in case of late injury.
There’s a lot of scouts here today!
Including former Sunderland striker Mick Harford, who is working with Luton Town at the moment.
He’s watched a number of the club’s games in recent years.