Town v Sunderland – Preview

Town head into tomorrow’s fixture with Sunderland full of confidence after last weeks opening day win at Burton Albion.

Cole Skuse yesterday eluded to confidence and momentum which is something Lambert agrees with: “Football’s great because you never get too high and you never get too low.

“Winning breeds confidence, it breeds momentum and there’s a really good feeling at the football club.

“We’re a young side and we’ll lose games, we’ll win games and we’ll draw games, but we’ll try.

“One thing we have got is a lot of energy, we’ve certainly got that. And hopefully with the backing of the support we do play well and when we get chances we can take them.

“I said before, there are so many difficult games in this league, we’ll win games and we’ll lose games because we’re slightly light in certain areas.”

There is set to be over 20,000 Town fans at Portman Road, something Lambert has always been impressed with since his arrival:

“The fanbase is huge and there’ll be a great atmosphere on Saturday. Sunderland will bring a big crowd and two big clubs will go head to head and we’ll see what happens.”

Last season Town only won three times at Portman Road, something Lambert is keen to change: “I’m not a great believer that it’s just your home form that will win you a league, it’s your away form as well,” he reflected.

“It’s not just the home form that’s going to be the key, if we win every home game and lose every away one then we’re not going to do it.

“For me it’s both, you have to win home and away. If we do that then we’ve got a chance, and if we don’t do that then we don’t have a chance.”

The atmosphere at Portman Road has been praised nationally and that is recognised by Lambert who will be trying his best to keep them smiling:

“We’ll try, as I said before, this place was like a morgue before we came in,” he recalled. “You were reporting it, so that’s probably why it was like a morgue, if it was any of these questions I can understand why!

“The support has been brilliant and if they can keep that support and bounce off the team then that’s my main concern, the support and the team.

“If you have success, then everybody will have it together. As I’ve said before, you sacrifice the ‘me’ for the ‘we’, then once you’ve had the success, then you have the ‘me’.” 

Tomorrow Town will start with Tomas Holy in goal who kept a clean sheet on his debut for Town last weekend.

Myles Kenlock will start at left back with Janoi Donacien likely to start at right back.

The first big decision will be the centre-back pairing with skipper Luke Chambers set to come back into the squad. He will partner one of Luke Woolfenden or James Wilson with potentially the other applying his trade at right back.

In the middle of midfield Cole Skuse will partner the ever improving Flynn Downes. Andre Dozzell will be back amongst the subs and will probably be given a start with Emyr Huws in the cup match at Luton next Tuesday.

Last weeks match winner Luke Garbutt will retain his place on the left hand side with Danny Rowe making his first home start two and a half years after joining the club, on the right.

Lambert will have to decide if he sticks with the two up top or bring Alan Judge into the starting line up to play behind James Norwood with Kayden Jackson being among the subs.

Sunderland will be without Duncan Watmore after the winger picked up a knock. Striker Charlie Wyke and midfielder Ethan Robson are still on the injured list but Max Power is close to being fit.

The midfielder suffered a serious ankle injury during the play-off final at the end of May but has stepped up his training. Winger Aiden McGeady has had a full week of training to prove his fitness after a foot injury.

Over time Town have just had the upper hand over Sunderland. Having won 23 of the games between the teams (23 in the league) and Sunderland 20 (18) with seven (seven) having ended in draws.

Saturday’s referee is Neil Hair from Cambridgeshire, who showed 102 yellow cards and seven red in 30 games last season.