Sunderland are preparing for a massive weekend.
The Black Cats are travelling to Wembley to take on Tranmere Rovers in the Papa John’s Trophy on Sunday afternoon hoping to put some silverware in the trophy cabinet.
Confidence is high at the Stadium Of Light and so Lee Johnson’s side will be brimming with confidence for this one.
Here’s the latest news to come from the Stadium Of Light.
Grant Leadbitter’s return
Sunderland could welcome back Grant Leadbitter for Sunday’s Papa John’s Trophy final, according to Chronicle Live.
The skipper has been out of action in recent weeks after suffering a dislocated shoulder and looked set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines as a result.
But speaking to the press Lee Johnson suggested that he could be involved.
As quoted by Chronicle Live, Johnson said: “I really think Grant is ready to play.
“I care for the human, as well as the relentless decisions you have to make as a manager.
“Grant will be in the squad. He has trained for the last three or four days, and he has tried to get up close and personal to test his shoulder out, and he has looked good.
“He’s got a light brace on his shoulder just to protect him in certain movements, but I think he will be OK and I wouldn’t have any fears about putting him on the pitch.”
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Kevin Phillips hails Lee Johnson’s role in Charlie Wyke’s rise
The Sunderland boss deserves credit for his role in turning Charlie Wyke into the player that he is today.
Wyke has scored 24 goals so far this term and could be essential in helping the Black Cats to promotion – something that Phillips believes is down to the man management of Lee Johnson.
As quoted by Chronicle Live, Phillips said: “For me it’s simple. He said he’d just been having chats with him. It might not be about football, it’s just about making him feel like he’s his number one striker.
“Believe me as a striker when a manager says that to you, you want to repay him for that faith.
“It doesn’t matter if you have a couple of games if you don’t score because you’re still playing.
“From that point of view he’s full of confidence. Getting bodies in and around Charlie when they do play forward and in the final third, when the ball goes up to him they’re getting players close to him.
“I don’t know how many goals he’s scored with his head this season, but I’m guessing it may be half of them. It shows you from an opposing side that if you stop the deliveries into the box then you stand a good chance to beat Sunderland.
“But, when you’ve got players like McGeady, trying to stop them crossing the ball is sometimes impossible because he’s so good at getting that half a yard and whipping the ball in.
“They’re in good form at the moment.”
Max Power on Lee Johnson
The Sunderland midfielder has hailed the impact of the new manager, saying that he’s restored his confidence on and off the pitch.
As quoted by the Sunderland Echo, Power said: “It’s been a bit of a strange season in terms of, I started it as a captain but picked up a little injury and was a bit in and out,” he added.
“I’d be the first to admit that I lost a bit of confidence and performance.
“Since this manager has come in I’ve really enjoyed working with him, I have felt reinvigorated.
“You discuss football and for me, the most important signing in a building as a manager. Yeah we go on the pitch but the manager sets us up and gets us going.
“You saw Tuesday night, a really strong performance from back to front.
“Confidence in football is massive. Just look at Charlie, and the reintroduction of Geads, he’s obviously been fantastic. There’s two players who are hard to deal with for the opposition.
“For me it’s about keeping standards up and driving that.
“Take Dion for instance, who looks a player well beyond years. It’s important for him to keep working hard, it’s nice to get those pats on the back and I’m constantly talking to him, reminding him that you’re only one or two performances away from the other side of it.
“It’s so nice watching a player like that progress and at the moment, you can go right through the squad with that.”