For today’s challenging game at Peterborough United Sunderland will likely miss out on the help of defenders Wes Brown (groin), Titus Bramble (Achilles/calf) and Phil Bardsley (thigh) who are all doubtful as the team chases its third successive win. Aside from long-term casualties Craig Gordon and Fraizer Campbell, 3rd choice keeper Keiren Westwood, Jack Colback (ankle), Connor Wickham (knee) and midfielder Sebastian Larsson are out. Look for O'Neill to include young players such as Meyler and MacLean.
I am not surprised by our top-scoring Swede being absent, if you saw his body language after he broke with the ball from defence to ultimately set up the goal in the last minute of the Man. City game. He was completely drained, having just got out fo bed from ‘flu the previous day. Luckily, we had Craig Gardner as a very able stand-in, as shown in that great 4-1 win at Wigan, who tumbled out against Swindon in yesterday’s FA Cup 3rd. round tie at the County Ground.
This game could be a banana skin for Sunderland as Peterborough have established themselves well in the middle of the Championship under Darren Ferguson in his second spell with the club, despite his unsatisfactory tenure at Preston. The team have recovered well from the sale of Scotland International striker Craig Mackail-Smith, now with Brighton, after being called a “a rampaging Nordic Viking with his long blond hair” by BBC Pundit Steve Claridge.
Obviously O’Neill and his highly performing but makeshift team are looking for a win, but a draw would also be a creditable result. I was disgusted by the Black Cats' casual display and loss against Notts County this time last year, which heralded a year of underperformance for Sunderland, but that unhappy period is now over and we must do better this time round. This is a trophy we can win in 2012 under our new manager!
©Lars J.S. Knutsen