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Following the cup tie-break, 20th placed Sunderland return to action in the Premier League as they play hosts to Burnley at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
David Moyes’ side find an uphill task on hand to escape from the clutches of relegation and will be coming into the game on the back of three losses, in which they haven’t scored a single goal. However, they could draw some encouragement from the fact that Burnley haven’t managed to win a single game away from home this season and hope to get a positive result. The two teams have gone head-to-head on three occasions this season, with Burnley winning twice and one match finishing in a goalless draw.
Midfielder Darron Gibson could miss out for Sunderland following a knee injury, while Lee Cattermole has been ruled out as well. Jan Kirchoff is fit again, but could only make an appearance from the bench due to a lack of match fitness. Steven Pienaar and Victor Anichebe also remain a doubt, while Jason Denayer will be assessed on a day-by-day basis to see if he can play any role. Paddy McNair and Duncan Watmore remain the only long-term absentees after having been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Between the sticks, it will be young Jordan Pickford. The Englishman has impressed heavily this season for the Black Cats and will start ahead of Vito Mannone.
On the right-side of the defence, we expect Billy Jones to keep his place ahead of Javi Manquillo. He will be given a stern test by Robbie Brady.
In the central defensive partnership, we will see the ever so impressive Lamine Kone occupy a place. With him going up against Andre Gray, we will be in for an interesting physical battle.
Partnering him will be the veteran, John O’Shea. The captain will have the task of keeping his opposite number, Ashley Barnes quiet.
At left-back, it will be the January signing Bryan Oviedo. The former Everton man is trusted by Moyes and will start his fourth game for Sunderland.
On the right-flank, it will be Adnan Januzaj. The Manchester United loanee has struggled for consistency, but has the complete backing of the manager and will start on Saturday.
With Darron Gibson’s involvement under a doubt, we expect a change in the middle of the park, with Jack Rodwell coming to replace the former Everton and Manchester United man.
Occupying the central area will be Swedish international Sebastian Larsson. He will be tasked with creating the chances for his team while going forward.
And the third midfield spot will be taken up by summer signing Didier N’Dong. His energy and endless running from box-to-box will be key for Sunderland.
On the left, we will continue to see the hard-working Fabio Borini. The Italian hasn’t been in the best of form, but on his day he can take games away from the opponent.
And spearheading the attack will be veteran striker Jermain Defoe. The 34-year old received a call-up from the England National team earlier this week and will want to celebrate his return to the international arena with a goal against Burnley.