Sunderland face Portsmouth twice in as many weeks and they may be playing them at the perfect time. Pompey are struggling with their cash problems and also players being out of form leaves them bottom of the league with no where to turn.
Sunderland who are also on a horrid run of form can use this game to get back to winning ways. Sunderland gladly welcome back six players from the treatment room with Gordon, Cattermole, Mensah, Reid, Richardson and Turner back from his 4 game ban.
This is the strongest team we have seen in a long time and Bruce is making the FA Cup his priority this season as we look to use this competition to breed confidence.
Bruce said: ‘We had to stop training. It would have been war.
‘Catts wired in to two of them and the lads were all still hurting after Chelsea, and all of a sudden the training ground is a different place.
‘I had to stop it, have a word and calm them all down.
‘It is exactly what I wanted to see – I wanted a response, I wanted to see they care about it.
‘Now they have to show the fans the same thing.
‘We took massive support down to Chelsea and all I can do is apologise to them.’
Sunderland Team News:
Where do I start?
Finally Sunderland have players to call upon who are deemed ‘first team players’. Turner returns from suspension, Gordon, Cattermole, Mensah, Reid and Richardson are all back from injuries also.
This will be the strongest team Bruce has been able to play since our victory over Liverpool months ago. George McCartney will not travel due to illness but Richardson should cover that position as new signing Kilgallon is cup tied.
Possible starting eleven:
Gordon, Bardsley, Mensah, Turner, Richardson, Reid, Henderson, Cattermole, Cana, Bent, Jones
Player to watch: Kenwyne Jones
With the media frenzy surrounding Jones this transfer window he needs to put in a good performance for the Sunderland fans. To show not only is he worth all the newspaper columns but he is also committed to our club for the future.
Portsmouth Team News:
Steve Finnan and Kaboul both return from injuries but Tommy Smith will miss the arrival of his old club with a groin injury.
Player to watch: Younes Kaboul
Sunderland target, Younes Kaboul broke many Mackem hearts in the league fixture last month with his stoppage time equaliser. He also had a solid game at the back and did not put a foot wrong all game, we need him to make an error for a chance in front of goal this weekend.
Match Facts & Stats
These clubs have met 100 times in competitive matches; Portsmouth have won 31, Sunderland 37 with 32 drawn.
They have only met once before in the FA Cup. Sunderland won the third round clash 1-0 on Wearside in December 1999. Gavin McCann scored the winner.
Referee: P Walton
Assistant Referees: J Flynn & A S Watts
Fourth Official: J Singh
Pompey 0 – 1 Sunderland
I feel this game is coming at the perfect time for SAFC and we will enter the 5th round after a good all round performance.
Sunderland face Everton away next weekend on 30th January 2010.