Sunderland vs Rochdale preview: Team news, predicted lineups, ones to watch, previous meetings and how to watch 
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Sunderland will look to go six games unbeaten in the league, as they're pushing for the top two places to try and earn automatic promotion back to the Championship.

Rochdale had the most miserable month in February, not winning a single game. They've now lost five and drawn two in their last seven games, not winning since their 2-1 away win to Bristol Rovers on January 30th. 

The Black Cats sit in fourth place currently, but if they don't keep up this good form they could slip out of the play-offs, with several sides on their tail. They also only sit five points away from the automatic spots, with two games in-hand on Hull City

The Dale are in despair, sitting in 23rd, one point above bottom-placed Wigan Athletic. A recovery is possible if they build some momentum and get some results on the board, with there being just three points between the bottom seven.

  • Team news

Sunderland continue to be without Jordan Willis, Bailey Wright, Denver Hume and Tom Flanagan.

Aiden O'Brien could return to the starting line-up after he was on the bench against Swindon Town earlier this week.

Lynden Gooch will face a fitness test ahead of the match.

For Rochdale, Oliver Rathbone is back available following a one-match ban, but Conor Shaughnessy saw red against Hull on Tuesday and is therefore unavailable through suspension.

Jake Beesley, Matthew Lund, Stephen Dooley, Jimmy Ryan and Jack Vale all missed the midweek defeat at Hull meaning this fixture could be too soon for them.

  • Predicted lineups

Sunderland XI:

Burge, Power, O'Nien, Sanderson, McFadzean, Winchester, Scowen, Gooch, McGeady, O'Brien, Wyke.

Rochdale XI:

Bazunu, McLaughlin, Osho, McShane, Done, Grant, Morley, O'Connell, Rathbone, Newby, Humphrys.

  • Ones to watch

Dion Sanderson - Sunderland

We could go for an obvious shout and say Charlie Wyke, who has been outstanding lately for The Black Cats and is currently the second top goal scorer on 19 goals in the league.

But for this one, another one to watch is centre-half Dion Sanderson who is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers. The defender is being described as one of the best loan signings Sunderland have ever made. 

Manager Lee Johnson hailed Sanderson, describing him as an "absolute Rolls-Royce.” The Englishman is only 21-years-old, tall, tough and has a fantastic attitude and top leadership skills, according to Johnson. 

Stephen Humphrys - Rochdale

The 23-year-old forward signed for the Dale in the summer from Southend United and has been impressive since joining.  He has eight goals and three assists to his name in the league this season.

With Matty Lund out, it's been down to Stephen Humphrys to get the goals, but it hasn't been happening for him in recent weeks. His last goal came in the 4-3 loss to Oxford United on the 26th of January. 

Rochdale have seriously been lacking in front of goal though, with no goals in five games. Humphrys will more than likely be the sole man up top against Sunderland, with the supporters hoping he can bring some magic. 

  • Previous meetings

The reverse fixture was a four-goal thriller, with every goal coming inside the first half. Wyke put the Black Cats ahead, and Lund responded. Five minutes before half time, Wright put Sunderland back into the lead. Lund wasn't having any of it though and he made it 2-2 a minute before the break. 
 

The sides have only faced each other six times in their history. Sunderland has come away victorious four times, with two draws.

How to watch

You can watch the match by purchasing an iFollow match pass from either club's website.

 

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