David Bentley and Jean Beausejour could return to the squad but Martins and Jiranek are still out. Nikola Zigic is rated 50/50 to return.
For Sunderland Anton Ferdinand has joined a list of injured centre backs that already contains Titus Bramble and John Mensah. Sulley Muntari is unlikely to return but Kieran Richardson may make the bench.
Our last meeting was on the opening day of the season at the Stadium of Light. Blues came from 2-0 down to get a 2-2 draw with goals from Ridgewell and Dann. The last meeting at St Andrews was in October 2009 and ended 2-1 to Blues with goals from McFadden, Ridgewell and Dann (This time for the other side).
Blues have recovered from their post Carling Cup slump with four points in the last two games.
Sunderland are rock bottom of the recent form league with only one point from their last six games. They have not won since January.
It’s a big day in the relegation battle tomorrow. While we’re battling the Black Cats most of the bottom six will be in action, in some cases against each other. With Wolves not playing this weekend it will be a good opportunity to put some daylight between us and the relegation spots. We could also consider our game to be a relegation battle as Sunderland are not safe yet and are in terrible form. I’m sure they will be OK though as they only probably need one win and they should get that before the end of the season. Hopefully not tomorrow though.
Sunderland have been suffering the kind of injury crisis that has affected us at various times this season. I read that Steve Bruce may have to field his tenth different centre back partnership on Saturday and they will be without other key personnel. Of course the main person they will be missing is Darren Bent who decided to risk contracting foot and mouth with a move to Aston Villa in January. He is still their top scorer which shows how much he is missed. I’ve always liked Steve Bruce (As a man more than a manager) but I think he may be nearing the end of his time at the Stadium of Light. They were very poor against Man City and have barely got a point in ages. Goals have dried up and without a settled back four they have started to leak goals at an alarming rate.
So I’m pretty confident about tomorrow. Other than a few lapses we were good against Bolton and Blackburn but we need to make the same positive start we did in those games. Sunderland will be low on confidence and an early goal will knock that further. What are the chances of old boy Kevin Phillips knocking one in early like he did against Bolton? I expect the team to be similar again although I will be happy when Liam Ridgewell returns to left back. His mistake against Blackburn reminded us of the bad old days when we used to get one of those nearly every week. I’d like to see Hleb come on at some point as well as I think he will be itching to make an impact after being out for so long. He won’t be a Blues player for much longer so we should get some use out of him while we can. I’d hope that if we do score early then we don’t try to sit on a narrow leader. Goal difference might be crucial at the end of the season so if we get a chance we should take it. I’d really like Jerome to score as well to give him confidence. Hopefully it’ll be another good crowd and atmosphere like we had against Bolton to urge the side on.
My prediction Blues 2 Sunderland 1
C’mon you blue boys!