Resurgent Sunderland take on Hull City at the Stadium of Light in a game between two sides who are separated only by goal difference.
After booking their place in the Capital One Cup final and achieving victories against Fulham and Stoke City in the Premier League, a 3-0 victory at St. James’ Park to secure the double over arch rivals Newcastle United was the icing on the cake for Sunderland, who are a side transformed under Gustavo Poyet. No Black Cats player has improved more markedly than Adam Johnson, who has been awarded January’s Player of the Month award.
The former Manchester City winger will be looking to help his side to a fifth home win in six against a Hull City who halted their slide down the table with a creditable point at home to Tottenham last time out. This is the first of a crucial run of games for the Tigers, whose new strike partnership is beginning to show encouraging signs, as their recent run has seen them slip to within two points of the danger zone.
Sunderland are still without the services of goalkeeper Kieren Westwood and defender Carlos Cuellar, but Steven Fletcher and Lee Cattermole could feature after recoverinbg from injury.
Steve Harper will continue in goal for Hull as Allan McGregor continues to serve a ban. James Chester and Sone Aluko are both out, though the latter is moving closer to match fitness.
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