Sunderland kept their promotion challenge firmly on track earlier this week as they beat Doncaster Rovers.
This weekend, they return to the Stadium of Light to face Southend United in Sky Bet League One.
And so, with that in mind, we caught up with Gary McLaughlin from We Are Wearside to preview the clash from a home perspective…
An important win against Doncaster earlier this week – how much confidence should be the team heading into the game with Southend?
I think the last few weeks have been massive for us. That made it three away wins on the bounce, two clean sheets in two games – it feels like the defensive demons that plagued us in the opening months of the season have finally been addressed.
Five points from top with a game in hand, this is as good a position as you could’ve expected at the start of the season given the entire club has been overhauled from top to bottom. That is despite every opposition manager being very keen on pointing out our financial superiority.
From what you’ve seen of this weekend’s opponents, is there a particular threat that stands out to you?
I haven’t seen much of Southend in all honesty. The numbers suggest that their two attackers, Tom Hopper and Simon Cox, are the big threats with 13 goals between them already this season. Not much of League One is televised, it’s weird knowing very little about our opponents each week.
Dylan McGeouch came in for some criticism against Doncaster – can you see him staying in the side given the players missing though? And if not who should replace him?
There’s a few that McGeouch hasn’t convinced so far. I worry about his ability to progress, if he is struggling to command midfields in this division – how is he going to be much use in the Championship if we do get there?
If everyone is fit, I don’t think McGeouch plays. Luke O’Nien has had a couple of decent games off the bench, so if McGeouch does make way it would likely be for him. With it being a compact week for games it would make sense to freshen things up so I would expect a change.
Josh Maja missed the game in the week but Ross has said he could be pushing to feature at the weekend. Should he come straight back in or should Ross look to ease his return?
That’s an absolute no-brainer for me. To even consider not starting your top scorer, a player with such a natural finishing ability, if he is fit is daft in itself. If Maja is fit he’s got to play.
With the form we’re in, we’ve got to go out there looking for the win. Especially with us being at home, I think we’ll achieve that and win 3-1.