Sunderland at Wembley: The key Charlton player that Black Cats must keep quiet in League One play-off final
This marathon season that started in early August finally ends on Sunday with a Wembley showdown against Charlton Athletic in the ultimate death or glory game with everything for the winners, nothing for the losers.
Of course, everybody knows we have been here before against the very same opposition and that didn’t end well but that was 20 years ago and has no bearing on what will happen at the weekend.
Sunderland already has experience of playing at Wembley recently but I’m not sure how much advantage - if any - that will give us but it can’t do any harm and in a game that is sure to be decided by small margins, anything that gives you an edge is welcome.
All those years ago when Charlton broke Sunderland fans’ hearts it was a cruel twist of fate that it was a Sunderland fan who did the damage when Clive Mendonca scored a hat-trick against Peter Reid’s team but as far as I am aware there are no Sunderland fans in the current Charlton squad, so that is a relief.
However, if anybody can do a ‘Mendonca’ on Sunderland it will be probably be Lyle Taylor - a player who has impressed me all season and a real dangerman that Sunderland’s centre backs must keep quiet.
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Taylor does have a Sunderland link in that it has been widely reported that Sunderland were keen on bringing him to the Stadium of Light in the summer but he ended up at the Valley and he has certainly been one of Charlton’s success stories this season, scoring over 20 goals and winning their player of the year award.
However, Sunderland need to find a matchwinner of their own and there are plenty capable, Grigg, Wyke, Morgan, Maguire and it is great to see Duncan Watmore back on the bench but at the top of every Sunderland creative list would be Aiden McGeady but will he be fit enough to participate?
Every single Sunderland fan will be hoping he starts, or at the very least be on the bench, for Jack Ross to use late on if he is not fit enough for a full game.
McGeady was Sunderland’s stand-out performer in the Checkatrade Wembley final with two goals and his experience and ability will be a huge boost for Sunderland if he can get out on the pitch for just one last time this season on Sunday.
Sunderland’s record at Wembley since 1973 is woeful but the current players have a great chance to change that on Sunday and go down in history at the same time - what better incentive could they have?