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Match Previews

Preview: Sunderland

28 September 2021

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The big fixtures keep on coming for Cheltenham Town in League One with a trip to Sunderland's Stadium of Light up next on Tuesday night (kick-off: 7.45pm).

It's 16 years since the Robins last faced Sunderland at their impressive stadium in the north east in a League Cup game, with Tuesday's clash the first ever league meeting between the two clubs.

Having faced top of the table Wigan Athletic on Saturday, there's no denying the challenge of the task that awaits the team again against a Sunderland side tipped for promotion to the Championship.

The squad will travel though aiming to deliver a performance to add to a pleasing start to the season while backed by a loyal army of fans making the 518 mile all-round trip to the former top flight side.

Team news

Defender Charlie Raglan will miss the trip as he's yet to reach full fitness on his return from an injury.

Forward Kyle Vassell (pictured) will be assessed after picking up a knock in the match at Wigan Athletic.

Will Boyle is unavailable through injury. Callum Ebanks is back in training having returned to fitness.

Media talk

Ahead of Tuesday's game Michael Duff has been praising his side's start to the club's first League One campaign since the 2008/09 season.

He said: "We've won three, drawn three and lost three and other than this Saturday we've been competitive in every game.

"The start has been a positive start. It's our 14th game of the season and we've had four games at home. We've done a lot of miles and travelling.

"If you had offered anyone this start they would have taken it."

Watch the full interview with the Robins boss for free on iFollow.

Midfield man Liam Sercombe has also been looking ahead to the game. Watch what he's had to say on iFollow.

Opposition

Except for a loss at Burton and away draw at Fleetwood, Sunderland have won all of their League One fixtures so far, so it's unsurprising to find them positioned second in the division as they aim to secure promotion to the Championship this term.

They boast a glittering squad at this level with full internationals backed by an impressive home support at their 49,000 capacity Stadium of Light home.

It was 2017 when they were last in the Premier League where their stay ended after ten consecutive seasons. They suffered back-to-back relegations when they dropped out of the Championship in 2018 and this is their third season in a row at this level.

Bayern Munich loanee Ron-Thorben Hoffmann is their man to rely on in goal, while their defensive set-up includes Northern Ireland international Tom Flanagan and 17-year-old Manchester City loanee Callum Doyle.

In midfield former Huddersfield Town man Alex Pritchard is one to watch, as is England youth international Elliot Embleton who has played against the Robins previously while on loan at Grimsby Town. Wide attacker Aiden McGeady has 93 caps for the Republic of Ireland having enjoyed a career with the likes of Celtic and Spartak Moscow.

Their forward line includes Scotsman Ross Stewart, ex-Bayern Munich striker Leon Dajaku and Wales under-21 international Nathan Broadhead, who is on loan from Everton.

The manager: Lee Johnson

Sunderland boss since December 2020, Lee Johnson is already in his fourth different managerial role as a 40-year-old having taken on his first position in 2013 when he was appointed manager at Oldham Athletic.

Since then he's managed Barnsley and Bristol City before taking on the role at the Black Cats who he led to last season's Papa John's Trophy title.

A midfielder in his playing days, he turned out for the likes of Yeovil Town, Hearts, Bristol City and Kilmarnock.

Head-to-Head

The one previous meeting between Sunderland and Cheltenham took place at the Stadium of Light in September 2005.

The first meeting between the two clubs came in the League Cup second round, and Sunderland, who were a Premier League side at the time, needed an extra time winner to make it through to the next round.

It arrived on 92 minutes when Anthony Le Tallec, on loan from Liverpool, pounced to score to seal a 1-0 win - a result that saw Sunderland take on Arsenal next time out.

Tickets & travel

All tickets for the game must have been purchased in advance of the game. There are no sales on the day.

Cheltenham fans who have purchased tickets will be located in the North Stand Upper, tier 3.

Supporters booked onto the Travel Club coach are reminded that it leaves from the Jonny-Rocks Stadium at midday. There will be a service station stop on the way.

Any tickets that have been purchased but not collected will be available from the Sunderland ticket office in Black Cat House.

The Stadium of Light is a fully cashless venue.

Coverage

Watch live: Tuesday's game is available to watch live on iFollow. Buy a match pass online for £10.

Social media: Follow @CTFCofficial on Twitter for team news and updates, CTFC on Facebook for score updates and @CTFCofficial on Instagram.

Website: Read the match report post-match and see reaction to the result from inside the camp.

Radio: Tune in to live commentary on BBC Radio Gloucestershire and on iFollow.

Highlights: Watch extended highlights on iFollow, on YouTube, Quest and on Sky Sports.


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