In the standout game of League One this midweek, Sunderland welcome high flying Ipswich Town to the Stadium of Light.
The hosts find themselves sixth in the table on 18 points, collecting their most recent week against Gillingham on Saturday, however both they and fifth-placed Charlton Athletic have a game in hand on the top four.
Ipswich sit second only behind leaders Peterborough by a single goal on 22 points. They come into this fixture having narrowly scrapped past Crewe Alexandra 1-0 at home in what many consider Paul Lambert's men's worst performance so far.
Phil Parkinson will most likely stick with the side that secured a hard fought victory on Saturday. The only potential change could be the return of Max Power in midfield. His partnership with Grant Leadbitter in the middle of the park has given Sunderland a solid base from which to build on.
Jordan Willis will again miss out as Sunderland look to preserve him until the international break next week, when he can get treatment on a long term knee injury. Phil Parkinson who has been forced to use full-back Conor McLaughlin as a makeshift central defender alongside naturals Bailey Wright and Tom Flanagan.
Chris Maguire will most likely return to partner Charlie Wyke up front. The two have formed a solid partnership with Maguire's pace and energy allowing former Carlisle and Bradford striker Wyke to focus on scoring which he seems to finally be doing in a Sunderland shirt. Sunderland were crying out for someone to bare the goalscoring burden and it seems he finally is.
As for Ipswich both young midfielder Flynn Downes (knee) and forward James Norwood (hamstring) will miss the game. Midfielder Jon Nolan is still suspended after his red card late on at Lincoln.
Sunderland XI (3-4-3) : Burge (GK), McLaughlin, Flannagan, Wright, O'Nein, Hume, Leadbitter, Power (C) , Maguire, Wyke, Gooch
Ipswich XI (4-3-3) : Holy (GK), Chambers (C), Woolfenden,McGuinness, Ward, Bishop, Dozzell, Judge, Edwards, Hawkins, Sears
Saturday was a welcome victory for Sunderland. Before then they were two without a win, the schooling by Portsmouth and a disappointing draw at Rochdale. Even in victory at Gillingham the black cats were below par and struggled to break down a goal shy side and test a debutant goalkeeper. This has been the issue all season, they win but it's never pretty and hard to watch.
They will go into this game aware of the threat posed by Ipswich and will hopefully have learnt from the Portsmouth game.
As for the East Anglians their recent away form has been woeful. Having been hit for four at Doncaster they followed that up with the narrow defeat at Lincoln. Similar to Sunderland they were below par at the weekend.
Both sides will have to improve on the weekend if they want to take the spoils from the game and if neither does it could be a dire contest more worthy of a relegation scrap than a promotion battle.
Ones to watch
For Sunderland not many have shone recently but one player seems to have improved from last season. California native Lyndon Gooch has always been the Sunderland player most likely to have you on the edge of your seat and that has been the case this term. Describing Gooch as a utility player would be harsh but he has shown great versatility playing on the wing, at wing back and in the centre of the park all to a good level. His goal put the game beyond doubt on Saturday and he has previous against this opposition, scoring the equaliser at Portman Road last term.
As for Ipswich, with talisman James Norwood on the sidelines the goalscoring burden has been taken up by Gwion Edwards. With five goals this term he leads Ipswich's goalscoring charts and is one of the top scorers in the league. Good going both ways, the welsh international is a tricky customer often ending up on the deck via a defenders loss of patience. His partnership with Ollie Hawkins and Freddie Sears in a three upfront is a force to be reckoned with for any League 1 defence.
Sunderland have faced Ipswich fifty two times over the years, with the tractor boys having the advantage, twenty three wins to Sunderlands twenty one. Eight games have ended in a draw including last terms fixture at Portman Road with Sunderland winning the reverse fixture thanks to an early Chris Maguire strike.
How To Watch
Both clubs will be offering a livestream through their respective IFollows. Streams are priced at £10 for UK viewers and £7 for international fans.