Opposition Focus: Sunderland

We caught up with Sunderland and Promotion Race ‘expert’ SunderLAD, gave us an insight into the Sunderland camp ahead of Saturday’s game.

How would you sum up the season so far as a Sunderland fan?

It’s been a rollercoaster to say the least. We started off ok, but after the sacking of Jack Ross, we plunged to depths never seen before in the history of this club. However, we look like we are back on the climb now.

You swapped Jack Ross for Phil Parkinson in the dugout, has the former Bolton manager won you over yet?

Most Sunderland fans would admit that they didn’t want Parkinson and wanted him gone when we were on this slide down the table. But what we have seen lately (less the Pompey game) has been an improvement that nobody predicted. He has won lots of us over, but I predict another change of people’s minds if we lose a few more games or fail to make the playoffs at least.

You seem to have hit a bit of form since Christmas (Pompey result beside), what do you put that down too?

Fitness. Phil has got the boys firing on all cylinders with a new regime. Getting McGeady away from the club must’ve had a positive impact too, but we might never know exactly what went on there.

We drew 1-1 back in August but I feel it is a completely different Sunderland now?

It is the same team, but Parkinson has got them all believing in themselves now.

You currently sit just out side the play-offs, what’s the aim come May? You’re about as successful in the play-offs as us?!

No Sunderland fan wants to go back to Wembley. It’s our bogey ground. Nevertheless, if that is what it takes to go up this season, we will be there in our thousands. For the record, if we end up there, we’ve got dibs on Trafalgar Square on the Saturday.

What team do you expect Parkinson to pick on Saturday?

442 In goal: McLaughlin Back Four: Dobson, Wright, Ozturk, Willis Midfield: O’Nien, Gooch, Power, Hume Up Front: Lafferty, Maguire

What’s your prediction ahead of the game?

Both teams suffering defeat to playoff rivals in their last fixture and will be keen to bounce back. Arguably, Sunderland will be more keen to secure 3 points, because they sit outside of the playoffs. SAFC are forced to make two changes after injuries to Wyke and Lynch at Fratton Park. Thankfully, they have replacements who can easily slot in. All eyes will be on Kyle Lafferty, who is expected to make it into the Starting XI for the first time. His aerial presence will give Ipswich something to think about defensively. Prediction: 2-1 home win.