Sunderland Preview: The view from the Midlands as the Black Cats head to Coventry City

We get the lowdown on all things Sky Blue ahead of our weekend visit to Coventry

We spoke to Amie Wilson, senior midlands football writer with Reach PLC/Coventry Telegraph, ahead of Sunderland’s away trip to the Coventry Building Society Arena at the weekend.

WMS: What are your expectations for Coventry City this season?

AW: It’s a difficult one, given the changes at the club since the play-off final last year. They’ve lost two key players in Gustavo Hamer and Viktor Gyökeres who were integral to that success, and have brought in a number of new players. I probably expect Coventry to finish in the top half of the table, and maybe push for the play-offs again.

WMS: What is Coventry’s typical preferred formation?

AW: Every game so far this season, Mark Robins has opted for a 3-4-1-2 system. I can’t see any reasons why he would change it.

WMS: What do you think Coventry’s likely starting XI will be?

AW: Wilson; Thomas, McFadzean, Latibeaudiere; Van Ewijk, Eccles, Sheaf, Dasilva; Sakamoto; Wright, Godden

WMS: Who are the Sky Blue’s current key players?

AW: Kyle McFazdean is the captain and leader at the back, he is also a danger from set-pieces as shown from his goal against Leicester. New signings Haji Wright and Tatsuhiro Sakamoto have also impressed in their early appearances.

WMS: A player Sunderland fans know quite well is striker, Ellis Simms. It’s early days but how does he seem to be settling in to Robins’ squad?

AW: He has struggled to make an impact so far, after starting the first two games against Leicester and Middlesbrough, he was dropped to the bench in last week’s game vs Swansea. In the two games he did start, he failed to get into the games too much and fluffed any half chances he had. Mark Robins has said that it will take time for him to adapt to his new surroundings and how Coventry play.

WMS: Which Sunderland player do you think the Sky Blues will be worried about most?

AW: Probably Jobe Bellingham – he’ll be full of confidence after his brace last weekend, and he has a big family name to live up to, but if he can, he’ll be some player.

WMS: Where do you think Sunderland will finish in the league?

AW: To be honest, I’ve not followed Sunderland enough in the last few years to make any good guesses. After a sixth place finish last season, I’d probably expect something similar this time around.

WMS: Score prediction for Saturday?

AW: Coventry 1-1 Sunderland

You can follow Amie Wilson on X/Twitter