Coventry City vs Sunderland preview: Who will
prevail in fierce promotion clash?
Coventry came out on top when these sides met in the second half of last season - will the outcome be different this time around?
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Another big weekend of action in the EFL is upon us, with important clashes at the top and bottom that could have big implications at the end of the season.

In EFL League One, a huge tie to look out for is the promotion chasing clash between Coventry City and Sunderland.

Both sides cannot downplay just how crucial this game could be at this stage of the season, against a fellow high-flyer.

Story behind the game

Coventry boss Mark Robins will feel that it was a missed opportunity in midweek, having been held to a draw by table-topping Rotherham United. City had the more positive second half, but couldn't claim the three points that would've taken them top. They are unbeaten in their last 12 league matches, having lost less than anyone else in the third tier. Meanwhile Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson seems to have finally found his stride after a difficult start to his time in charge. Max Power scored a last gasp equaliser against Fleetwood Town in midweek, with Sunderland having won their four previous games without conceding a goal. So both sides are in good form going into the game.

Coventry are unbeaten against Sunderland since February 2007, with the last three fixtures between the two bringing one Coventry win and two draws. It was a stalemate when they met back in November, however fans of both clubs will more vividly remember their meeting towards the end of last season. With the North East side chasing automatic promotion, they welcomed Coventry to the Stadium of Light, who then proceeded to beat them 5-4. It was an enthralling game that ultimately put a huge dent in Sunderland's EFL Championship dream.

A win on Sunday for Coventry will take them to the top of the table, whilst victory for the visitors will lift them above their opponents into the automatic promotion places.

Team news

Robins will be hoping that Jodi Jones will be returning imminently to the team, as he is reaching the end of his recovery from an ACL injury. However both Dan Bartlett and Wesley Jobello will be out for the remainder of the season.

In the other camp, Parkinson has been handed a boost, with Joel Lynch featuring in a behind closed doors friendly in the week, so could feature. Elsewhere both Charlie Wyke and Lynden Gooch are minor doubts due to knocks they've picked up.

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Predicted Line-up

Coventry City:

(3-4-3) Marosi, Rose, McFadzean, Hyam, Dabo, Kelly, Walsh, McCallum, Biamou, Godden, O'Hare

Sunderland:

(3-4-3) McLaughlin, Willis, Ozturk, Flanagan, O'Nien, Dobson, Power, Hume, Maguire, Wyke, Gooch

Key Clashes

Liam Kelly v Max Power

In terms of midfield battles, one to watch out for is the one involving Coventry captain Liam Kelly and Sunderland dangerman Max Power. The experienced Kelly has been with the Midlands club for nearly three years now, as is looking to be a part of a second promotion in that time. The one time Scottish International will know that he has to be at his best in order to keep Power from adding to his goal in midweek. The former Wigan Athletic player joined the Wearside club in the summer, having spent part of last season on loan with them. And he is now a key part of the side, as they look to push up the table.

Matty Godden v Alim Ozturk

When it comes to goals for Coventry, they have plenty of outlets, however their main source is striker Matty Godden, who has 13 goals in all competitions so far this season. He bagged the leveller in their midweek draw with Rotherham, which is one of many vital strikes he has provided. And the ex Peterborough United man will be looking to do so again on Sunday, but must find a way through a tough Sunderland backline featuring defender Alim Ozturk. The towering former Turkish youth player is coming to the end of his second season in the North East, having joined on a free transfer. He has been an integral part of league's best defence this campaign and will aim to make it five clean sheets in six games on Sunday.

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What the managers have said

Mark Robins spoke to the club's media, as he anticipates a tough test against a very rigid Sunderland defence. He said:

“I saw the Sunderland Fleetwood game from Tuesday night and they're two similar sides, they set up the same, good players on show and they try and play football.

“In possession they've got some really good players, they've changed things around a lot and as I say it's a club with great expectation on their shoulders.”

Meanwhile his counterpart Phil Parkinson has told local journalists that his side must show their dominance in order to come out on top. He said:

“I think it's important we look at it as similar to when we went to Doncaster, a large away following, where we go with the mentality to play like the home team.

“I think we're at our best when we're in the ascendency and on the front foot, and that's the mindset we've got to take down with us to St Andrews on Sunday.”

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