Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s Championship clash between Huddersfield Town and Sunderland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sunderland will travel to Yorkshire to meet Huddersfield Town on Wednesday in a game of major importance at both ends of the Championship table.
A victory at the weekend saw the visitors move seventh and only outside of the playoff places on goal difference, while their hosts’ lead over the relegation zone was reduced back to just two points in a defeat away at Southampton.
Huddersfield Town return to action on Wednesday aiming to return to winning ways in the fight for Championship survival this term, having suffered a setback at the weekend after gaining crucial ground in recent weeks.
Despite the Terriers putting an unbeaten run together with consecutive 1-1 draws against Plymouth Argyle, Blackburn Rovers and Queens Park Rangers, Darren Moore‘s tenure as manager was brought to an end at the end of January with the Yorkshire outfit sat 21st on 28 points from 29 matches.
Jon Worthington has since taken over on an interim basis at the John Smith’s Stadium, and he began with a crucial relegation six-pointer at home to fellow strugglers and 23rd-placed Sheffield Wednesday in early February, overseeing a crucial 4-0 victory to stretch their lead over the drop zone as Josh Koroma hit a brace alongside goals from Matty Pearson and Sorba Thomas.
An unenviable trip to second-placed Southampton then followed on Saturday, and despite making a dream start and leading 2-0 through Thomas and David Kasumu and moving back into a 3-2 advantage through Alex Matos, they would return home empty-handed as a Tom Lees own goal drew the hosts back level 10 minutes from time before Sekou Mara and Samuel Edozie wrapped up a 5-3 home win with late goals.
Such a result, with their rivals in the fight to avoid the drop picking up positive results, saw the Terriers’ leads over 22nd-placed Queens Park Rangers and 23rd-placed Sheffield Wednesday cut back to two and five points respectively, and they will be desperate to bounce back in midweek to re-establish a cushion while the search for a new permanent manager continues.
In their way stand a Sunderland side who will bid to strengthen their playoff claim at the John Smith’s Stadium, having enjoyed an upturn in form in recent weeks.
Following his appointment as manager in mid-December, Michael Beale was unable to inspire an immediate improvement in the Black Cats’ top-six bid, with his first six Championship games in charge producing just seven points.
That tough start culminated in back-to-back defeats at the hands of Ipswich Town and Hull City in mid-January, but the Wearside outfit appear to have turned a corner in recent weeks, bouncing back from those losses by earning seven points from their last three attempts.
The Black Cats firstly hosted Stoke City and ended a brief slump with a 3-1 win, thanks to goals from Mason Burstow, Abdoullah Ba and Pierre Ekwah, and after playing out a 1-1 draw with rivals Middlesbrough, they most recently met Plymouth Argyle at the weekend and prevailed in another 3-1 triumph, despite trailing at half time, as Ekwah, Jack Clarke and Jobe Bellingham turned the game on its head in the second half.
Now sitting seventh having leapfrogged playoff rivals Hull City with that win, and only trailing sixth-placed Coventry City on goal difference and fifth-placed West Bromwich Albion by two points, Sunderland will bid to make it four games unbeaten and climb into the top six with a midweek victory in Yorkshire.
Huddersfield Town Championship form:
Huddersfield Town form (all competitions):
Sunderland Championship form:
Sunderland form (all competitions):
Huddersfield Town continue to contend with a long list of enforced absentees which has only worsened in recent weeks, with key defender Michal Helik and new attacker Rhys Healey missing out at the weekend while Oliver Turton, Josh Ruffels, Jaheim Headley, Chris Maxwell, Danny Ward and Delano Burgzorg all remain confined to the treatment room, with attacker Kian Harratt also serving a suspension.
Should Helik remain sidelined, Matty Pearson, Tom Lees and Yuta Nakayama should line up in an unchanged back three from the weekend, while Jonathan Hogg and Alex Matos will likely continue to get the nod in midfield despite competition from Ben Wiles.
At the top end of the pitch, with Healey, Ward, Burgzorg and Harratt out of action, Bojan Radulovic will bid to come in and lead the line, but Worthington may again deploy Josh Koroma to lead the line with support from key men Jack Rudoni and Sorba Thomas.
Michael Beale should certainly deploy a similar Sunderland starting XI on Wednesday to the one that featured in the 3-1 win over Plymouth Argyle at the weekend, with Dennis Cirkin, Niall Huggins, Ajibola Alese and Bradley Dack remaining confined to the treatment room while new arrival Callum Styles is yet to be ready to feature.
One change could be the return of Jobe Bellingham in an advanced midfield role from the outset, after he netted his fifth Championship goal of the season last time out off the bench, and the 18-year-old should replace Abdoullah Ba alongside Pierre Ekwah with Dan Neil again bound to anchor the midfield.
Ahead of them, Nazariy Rusin will continue to lead the line with further attacking support from wingers Patrick Roberts and Jack Clarke, who sits joint-fourth in the Championship scoring charts with 14 league goals so far this term.
Huddersfield Town possible starting lineup:
Nicholls; Pearson, Lees, Nakayama; Kasumu, Matos, Hogg, Spencer; Rudoni, Koroma, Thomas
Sunderland possible starting lineup:
Patterson; Hume, Ballard, O’Nien, Hjelde; Neil; Roberts, Bellingham, Ekwah, Clarke; Rusyn
We say: Huddersfield Town 1-2 Sunderland
Huddersfield Town certainly showed their fighting spirit despite ultimately falling short away at one of the league’s form teams last weekend, on the back of a major victory against Sheffield Wednesday, and they will certainly make it tough for the Black Cats on Wednesday.
The visitors boast more quality throughout their squad, however, and with momentum back on their side, we fancy Beale’s men to prevail in a difficult test.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.