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Welcome to our comprehensive preview of tonight’s League Cup clash between MK Dons and ourselves at Stadium:MK. The home side will fancy an upset, but it would be a great chance for us to progress and break the drawing habit.
Sunderland Team News
Martin O'Neill went with a strong side in the last round against Morecambe, and we'd expect the same to happen against MK Dons tonight.
There's no fresh injuries from the West Ham United game, but we do expect some changes to be made.
Keiren Westwood replaced Simon Mignolet in the previous round, and we should expect Ireland's number one to do the same tonight.
In defence there's an enforced change as Titus Bramble goes down with injury, meaning Matt Kilgallon is likely to start alongside John O'Shea and Craig Gardner Jack Colback could replace Danny Rose if there's a doubt over his fitness or eligibility.
In midfield Lee Cattermole will captain and be joined by either Colback if he's not at left back or the returning David Vaughan who saw some action at the weekend.
On the wings look for James McClean down one side, and Fraizer Campbell down the other. It's unlikely that Adam Johnson will be risked in a League Cup game with bigger games on the horizon.
Up top it's likely to be Stephane Sessegnon in the hole behind the free-scoring Steven Fletcher.
MK Dons Team News
The Dons had a great 4-1 win over Bury at the weekend, and it's unlikely there'll be much change from that side.
David Martin - formerly of Liverpool and son of Alvin - will start in goal, with a defence including fellow former Liverpool alumni Jon Ostemobor in addition to Dean Lewington, Shaun Williams and Anthony Kay.
In midfield there's a familiar name and face in Luke Chadwick on the wing alongside Darren Potter, Stephen Gleeson and Dean Bowditch - who scored a hattrick in the 4-1 win over Bury. Although exciting youngster Dean Powell could be handed a start in this game.
Up front look for Charlie MacDonald and Jay O'Shea (no relation to John) doing battle with our defence.
Sunderland: Westwood; Gardner, Kilgallon, O'Shea, Colback; Cattermole, Vaughan, McClean, Campbell; Sessegnon, Fletcher
MK Dons: Martin; Kay, Williams, Ostemobor, Lewington; Chadwick, Gleeson, Potter, Bowditch; MacDonald, O'Shea
Key Matchup: James McClean Vs Anthony Kay
McClean has been well, well off the boil the last few weeks, with perhaps his only decent performance coming against Morecambe in this competition. This game represents a huge opportunity for McClean to get back into full swing, but will face a tough opponent in former Huddersfield Town defender Kay.
Equally Stephane Sessegnon will have to turn his own fortunes around with a top notch performance of his own, but only one will need to prevail. If both do, that should be even better for us!
Recent Form: LLWDW
Loss: Northampton Town 1-0 MK Dons (Robinson 11)
Loss: Walsall 1-0 MK Dons (Holden 17)
Win: MK Dons 1-0 Yeovil (MacDonald 75)
Draw: MK Dons 1-1 Notts County (Bishop 27; O'Shea 68)
Win: Bury 1-4 MK Dons (Bowditch 33, 55 & 66, Chadwick 90; John-Lewis 81)
Last Time Around: N/A
This is actually the first time we've played against MK Dons as they are now known. We did play Wimbledon at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes shortly after the FA Cup Semi-Final defeat against Milwall, but under the MK Dons incarnation, we've never met before.
The Ref: Stuart Attwell
29-year old Attwell was the youngest person ever to officiate a Premier League game back in 2008, but has since slipped back into the Football League following demotion from the elite list in 2012.
This season he has officiated at all levels in the Football League and has tended to keep his cards in his pocket and try to keep the game moving. He's yet to award a penalty or send anyone off, and only dished out more than 3 yellow cards once in an ill-tempered game between Southend and Wycombe Wanderers which drew 7 yellows.
Attwell however is best known for being the referee who awarded the infamous ‘ghost goal' to Reading in a 1-1 draw with Watford in September 2008.
What The Managers Said
They are a strong side who are going very well. I think it would be a difficult game anyway even if we had everyone to choose from, and we might have to make a couple of enforced changes.
I really don't like doing that if at all possible, especially this early in the season. But things are forced upon us and we will try to compete as strongly as possible.
Martin O'Neill is a legend in management. He's a manager who I think a lot of fans of other Premier League teams would want as their own manager. I'm good friends with Neil Lennon and all he ever talks about is Martin. I'm looking forward to testing myself against him.
Roker Report Predicts
This one will be a tough game for us, make no bones about that, so we think this will be a closer game than the league standings would have many a neutral believe. That said, it's a great chance for us to get into the fourth round, and I fully expect us to do that by hook or by crook. A close encounter, we're confident that we can edge this one 2-1 in normal time, but don't expect it to be a classic.