Sunderland vs Hull City Preview: Former Premier League sides clash in relegation six-pointer

Sunderland vs Hull City Preview: Former Premier League sides clash in relegation six-pointer

The two sides have endured tough seasons since relegation from the top-flight last season, but who will come out on top as they both aim for survival?

Jack McGraghan

Sunderland host Hull City in the Championship this Saturday as the two sides look to earn a confidence-boosting three points against a relegation rival.

The Black Cats sit rock bottom and are three points behind 20th placed Hull, who replaced manager Leonid Slutskiy with Nigel Adkins in December in an attempt to climb up the table.

Sunderland in desperate need of reinforcements

If Chris Coleman's side are to move away from the trapdoor to League One then they need reinforcements to their squad - and fast.

The departures of striking duo Lewis Grabban and James Vaughan to Bournemouth and Wigan respectively have left Sunderland severely lacking up top, with only youngsters Josh Maja and Joel Asoro comfortable playing there.

Rumours of signing Ben Woodburn and Jon Walters have been quashed in the past few days, and while Coleman says a loan deal for a striker - thought to be Chris Martin - is lined up he admitted the deal has not yet gone ahead because "through no fault of the club we have been dealing with, they have been let down trying to bring a player in".

In terms of results, the Black Cats have struggled in recent weeks and come into the game on the back of a three-game losing streak across all competitions with defeats to Barnsley, Middlesbrough and most recently a 4-0 drubbing at Cardiff.

An away win at Nottingham Forest at the turn of the year has since proved crucial to keeping Sunderland close to the teams around them, but they need to start putting more wins together if they are to escape the predicament they find themselves in.

Coleman spoke about the transfer window at his pre-match press conference saying it is a "horrible month for teams like us", although the Welshman admitted that "we can turn it into a good month if we can get faces in."

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Tigers hoping managerial change claws them out of trouble

Hull opted for a change in management in early December with the side struggling towards the bottom end of the Championship, and so in came Adkins with the task of steering the club away from humiliating back-to-back relegations.

Things haven't quite gone to plan however, and since a 3-2 win over Brentford in his first game in charge Hull have won just once under Adkins' stewardship - a 1-0 win over League One Blackburn Rovers in the Emirates FA Cup third round.

The Tigers were held to a goalless draw by fellow strugglers Reading in their last outing and could move to 19th with a win at the Stadium of Light this weekend, providing Barnsley fail to beat play-off hopefuls Aston Villa.

Goals have not been hard to come by for the Yorkshire outfit this season with the Tigers netting 39 goals in the league, however keeping them out has proved to be the problem with 44 goals conceded in 27 games - only Bolton, Burton Albion and Sunderland have conceded more.

Adkins stressed that confidence is key at his pre-match press conference, saying his side must "go with a mind-set that we are going to win every game of football" before adding that "everyone is pulling in the right direction" to get Hull away from the drop zone.

Team news

Coleman's side are still without a number of players and find themselves short up front following Grabban and Vaughan's departures, meaning Maja is likely to start up front.

Didier Ndong is unavailable after his sending off at Cardiff was appealed unsuccesfully while Lamine Koné and Jonny Williams are not yet ready to start despite returning to training this week. Midfielder Jack Rodwell informed Coleman that he "doesn’t want to play for Sunderland" and will not be involved.

Winger Kamil Grosicki is close to a return to full fitness and could play a part in Saturday's game, although Will Keane and Abel Hernández are set to miss out although they should return in the coming weeks.

Predicted line-ups

Sunderland (5-4-1): Ruiter; Jones, Wilson, Clarke-Salter, O'Shea, Oviedo; McGeady, Honeyman, Cattermole, McManaman; Maja.

Hull City (4-2-3-1): McGregor; Aina, Hector, Dawson, Tomori; Larsson, Meyler; Irvine, Bowen, Toral; Dicko.