Football League World’s Chris Thorpe will be live at Plough Lane as AFC Wimbledon play host to Sunderland in Sky Bet League One this weekend.
This third tier fixture pits together two teams who have endured patchy form of late, with both sides having slipped below their expected standards over the last few weeks, underlining the need to pick up a positive result on Saturday.
Glyn Hodges will be keen for his side to pick up only their third home win since moving back to Wimbledon, with the Dons sure to have been boosted by their midweek Papa John’s Trophy win over Bristol Rovers away, as they progressed to the quarter-finals of the competition.
Meanwhile Lee Johnson also saw his Sunderland side achieve similar success as they too went through to the next round of the knockout competition, seeing off League Two Port Vale with relative ease at the Stadium of Light.
A win for the home side could see them move out of the relegation zone if other results go their way, whilst a victory for the Black Cats could see them jump up as high as sixth.
Only one change is expected for the Dons, with Hodges set to bring in top scorer Joe Pigott for the injured Ollie Palmer, after the latter picked up an injury in the side’s midweek cup win, whilst Reading loanee Sam Walker will continue between the sticks for his new side as he gears up for his home debut.
Wimbledon will however also have to do without the services of Ben Heneghan, Paul Osew, Luke O’Neill and Terell Thomas, with the quartet having all been sidelined recently through a combination of injury and illness.
For Sunderland, several changes are expected from the team which saw off Vale on home turf, with the likes of Jack Diamond, Charlie Wyke, Aiden McGeady and Grant Leadbitter all likely to be included from the off alongside new signing Carl Winchester who arrived from Forest Green Rovers earlier this month.
The North East outfit are to be without a few key names, with Conor McLaughlin due to face a hernia operation, meaning that he joins Denver Hume, Danny Graham, Tom Flanagan, Will Grigg, Luke O’Nien and Arbenit Xhemajli on the injury table.
Wimbledon have never beaten Sunderland in four previous attempts in the Football League, though they did draw 1-1 in the reverse fixture back in December.
Sunderland’s only previous away league match against the Dons was in August 2018, as they ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a rare double from Lee Cattermole.
Both Pigott and Wyke will be the players to watch on Saturday afternoon, with both players having led the line to great effect for their sides this term.
The Black Cats will be looking to impose their possession based style upon the game, meaning that Hodges will be looking for his side to hit the visitors on the counter attack through the creativity and directness offered by the likes of Jack Rudoni, Ethan Chislett and Ryan Longman.
A match sure to be decided by the battle for control in midfield, Sunderland should have enough quality to pick up a positive result, although the Dons will prove to be a tough test as they look to end their run of six league games without a win this Saturday.