Sunderland v City. Match preview

Last updated : 25 February 2005 By Michael Morris
City face their longest journey in the Chamiponship with 320 miles to travel to Sunderland for Saturday's match.

Sunderland are flying high in the table with automatic promotion a good possibility, City will have to be at their best to shock the "Black Cats".

As earlier reported James Collins misses out, Chris Barker is a doubt and it's unsure if he'll be fit enough to play. Tony Vidmar will come in for the suspended Collins. Lennie is also pondering over a change up front. The Thorne / Lee partnership is not impressing anyone at the moment and with Camerone Jerome fit again we could see the youngster back in the starting XI.

Sunderland will also make changes.

Speaking ahead of the game Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy said of his possible injury changes

"Mark Lynch will come in for Stephen Wright, if Dean Whitehead doesn't make it then Liam Lawrence could come in and the same applies to Julio, if he doesn't make it then Andy Welsh will come in."

Sunderland have scored 8 goals in their last two home games, 4 against Watford 2 weeks ago and 4 against Rotherham earlier this week. They are looking for a 5th home win in a row.

The Stadium of Light is the biggest stadium City will play in this season. With nearly 49,000 seats it's one of the biggest league grounds in the country. Off the top of my head I can only think of Old Trafford and St James Park as bigger domestic venues. Sunderland, if they chose to use it, have planning permission that could see the capacity rise to 64,000. So far this season they are averaging crowds of 27,000 with their highest over 43,000 for the visit of Leeds Utd.

After last Tuesday's defeat City are looking over their shoulders again. Plymouth's win over Sheff Utd dropped the Bluebirds down a place and we could drop again if Coventry win and we lose. The important gap is that over Gillingham, it's currently 6 points but with Forest having a game or two in hand don't write them off just yet. They could close the gap on Cardiff to just 5 points if things go their way tomorrow and still have a game in hand.

Time to set the alarm ready for an early start, hopefully the snow covering Northern England will be gone and the drive not too bad. Come on City, give us a win and make the drive back on Saturday evening a happy one.