Tony Mowbray gives honest verdict on his expectations at Sunderland as Cats prepare for Preston test

Tony Mowbray says he still has to manage expectations at Sunderland despite the club’s positive start to the season.

The Black Cats are fifth in the Championship table with 15 points from 10 games but are just three points ahead of Birmingham in 17th.

Mowbray has overseen four games since replacing Alex Neil as Sunderland head coach and hopes to repay the club’s supporters.

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“It’s a special club and you can feel it’s a special club,” Mowbray told SAFC.com. “I just hope we can find a way to make it an enjoyable season for everybody.

Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray

“I feel as if I have to temper expectations a little bit because we’re not one of the big boys. We are a big boy in size of the club in the league of course, in fanbase and everything, but we have just come out of League One and the squad needs growing, developing and nurturing with the younger players.

“Hopefully it’s an enjoyable season for everybody, hopefully we have some amazing days with some great victories along the way and exciting times.”

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The Black Cats are preparing for back-to-back home games against Preston and Blackpool following the international break, with defender Dennis Cirkin expected to be available following an injury setback.

Striker Ellis Simms will be assessed for the Preston match after sustaining a toe injury in the 3-0 win at Reading earlier this month.

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“Games at home are always tough and there’s an expectation that we will turn up at home and just roll teams over, and yet this a really hard and attritional league,” Mowbray added. “We are going to have to work really, really hard and play at our best to pick up points.

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“When you look at Preston they have had seven clean sheets, scored three and conceded four, the least goals against in the league, so it’s not going to be easy.

“They are going to come and make it really difficult, they will fight for every ball. If we play at our best with our wide individual talent, attackers and No 10s, hopefully Ellis might be closer by then, we will have to wait and see, we’ve got some options that can give them problems and we’ll do our very, very best to try and win the game.”