After back-to-back defeats, Sunderland are losing grip on the automatic promotion race for the Championship.
They may have to settle for a place in the play-offs for a third season in a row as losses to Charlton and Wigan have seriously hampered their credentials, and Peterborough United’s victory over Northampton Town last night hasn’t made things easier.
Sunderland sit eight points behind both league leaders Hull City and Posh, albeit with a game in hand, and a win today is absolutely vital if they want to finish in the top two.
They face a few big challenges though, firstly due to the absence of Dion Sanderson.
The Wolves loanee has been a rock at the back for the Black Cats, but a back injury means he will be on the sidelines, potentially for the rest of the season.
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And Sunderland come up against a Blackpool side who haven’t lost in League One for 15 games, with Neil Critchley’s outfit being one of the form side and a win for them would close the gap to the Black Cats to just three points.
Johnson has made several changes to his line-up, with Grant Leadbitter, Aiden O’Brien and Callum McFadzean all coming in in place of Sanderson, Denver Hume and Jack Diamond.
There’s a mixed response to the line-up on social media – check out some of the reactions.
Thinking about what McFadzean has on LJ to force him to start pic.twitter.com/gVqujnQ9c2
— Joseph (@jpsleightholme1) April 17, 2021
Decent team tbh please win for all us
— Liam ツ (@SAFCLiam17) April 17, 2021
I see scowen we’ve lost
— Dec🇫🇷 (@declanprice02) April 17, 2021
The state of that starting XI – don't know where to start tbh.
— Kevin Moeliker (@Kevsol) April 17, 2021
Crying out for pace that team like
— Iley (@ileyACAB) April 17, 2021
Mcfadzean and Scowen yeah we’ve lost 🤦🏻♂️
— KyleMartin (@KyleMartino10) April 17, 2021
Why is he playing mcfadzean
— George Robson (@GeorgeSmally) April 17, 2021
Good to see lessons have been learned 🙄 Another defeat awaits
— John (@returnoflemack) April 17, 2021
Scowen and McFadzean 🤦🏻♂️🤦🏻♂️🤦🏻♂️
Think I’ll give this one a miss lads https://t.co/k8VIRZdnM8
— Glen (@RunGMC16) April 17, 2021