Sunderland v Everton – Match preview and team news

Sunderland will look to build on their Tyne-Wear Derby success and move further away from the drop zone in Paolo Di Canio’s first match in charge at the Stadium of Light. The Black Cats currently lie only three points above the drop zone however and will know that a clash with an Everton side still very much in the race for the top four will hardly be an easy challenge.

In the two matches since the volatile Di Canio replaced Martin O’Neill as the club’s manager, Sunderland have first put in an improved showing in defeat at Chelsea before delighting supporters with their thumping 3-0 success at Newcastle last week.

The Italian may choose to field an unchanged line-up from the one that took the field at St James’ Park, meaning that even should Connor Wickham return from his injury problem, Danny Graham may remain in the lone striking role.

Elsewhere, Steven Fletcher and Lee Catermole are ruled out for the season while midfielder Craig Gardner is still out through suspension.

Everton may name an unchanged starting XI from the one that played so impressively in securing a goalless draw at the Emirates against Arsenal on Tuesday.

Manager David Moyes may feel his side will struggle to topple London trip Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham in the race to finish in the top four but the Toffees remain only four points off the Gunners in fourth with a favourable run of fixtures to come.

Indeed, with Chelsea and Spurs facing tough weekend fixtures against Liverpool and Manchester City, the Merseysiders will know just how important three points will be.

Ross Barkely may continue in central-midfield following his promising showing against the Gunners, though Leon Osman may be fit to return. The departing Phil Neville may also be in contention, leaving Seamus Coleman to move into midfield.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Sunderland v Everton

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