Sunderland AFC Preview – Can Black Cats end losing streak?

Jon Lambert is back with the preview to Sunderland's trip to Luton Town

The final chapter in a difficult October comes to a head this Saturday in the form of a trip to Kenilworth Road to face the Championship’s plucky over achievers Luton Town. A ground which holds happy memories for Lads fans as under Roy Keane in 2007 we clinched the Championship title winning 5-0.

Having finished in the play-offs last season with a team south of £2m, it’s remarkable the Hatters have managed to compete in such a debt-ridden league, operating with such fiscal prudence. But with a squad average age of over 27, they have a good mix of peak years and experience.

The head coach Nathan Jones took Luton from the relegation places in League Two up to the promotion places of League One before he was tempted away in January 2019 by Stoke City… the Welsh coach clearly had a penchant for the shitholes of the United Kingdom.

But in the immortal words of Bananarama, the Luton owners decided “Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long”, and the coach returned to Kenilworth Road in May 2020. Now a Championship side, Jones secured their status in the division, and remarkably got them to the play-off semi-finals last time out, securing the EFL Championship Manager of the Year in the process.

Defender Gabe Osho will be missing Saturday owing to suspension following his red card in last weekend’s Hertfordshire derby against Watford. A game where the Luton squad was riddled with a sickness bug which ultimately contributed to the surprise result.

Last season’s top scorer Elijah Adebayo leads the line alongside Carlton Morris, they have nine goals between them. Morris is a canny frontman who holds the play up well in their high press. They are supported by attacking midfielder Luke Freeman brought in from Sheffield United in the summer.

The team are captained by experienced centre back Sonny Bradley, who sits in the middle of a back three accompanied by Tom Lockyer and Amari’i Bell. Cameron Jerome loves to score against us, and he is another option up top from the bench for the home side. Henri Lansbury should be back after the aforementioned sickness bug. Jordan Clark is the player to watch, the former winger has adapted very well in his box to box midfield role.

For the Lads we continue to get teased by the fitness of Ellis Simms and Niall Huggins, who were both present at the open training session at the SoL this week. Huggins is likely to play 90 minutes at SJP on Monday against Newcastle for the u21s as he continues to test his body during his recovery. Dan Ballard shouldn’t be far off now either, but the temptation will be to hold recovering players back until after the World Cup.

Lynden Gooch won’t make it as his injury is worse than first thought, which gives Trai Hume another crack at full back. If physicality and prowess in the air are what the gaffer is after, he may need to start considering introducing Bailey Wright into the fold, as the sides vulnerabilities are becoming more and more telling from set pieces.

For those that have been to Kenilworth Road, we know it’s a tight, compact ground that only contains a meagre 10,228 seats. The Lads will be backed by another full away end as Luton have announced the game is a sell out. The Lads will look to avoid three straight defeats, which could see them in the dreaded bottom three for the first time this season.

A win however could see them lifted to tenth which would be a far more pleasing prospect leading into the game against bottom of the table Huddersfield. For me we’ve had two poor halves of football this season, avoid another one and we should come away with something to take into November. Ha’way the Lads.