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Jan 8, 2022 at 12.30pm UK
WycombeWycombe Wanderers
Mehmeti (13'), Vokes (36'), Jacobson (90+8')
Scowen (22'), Jacobson (45+2')
FT(HT: 2-2)
Stockdale (3' og.), Stewart (39', 90+3')
Embleton (83')

Preview: Wycombe Wanderers vs. Sunderland - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Wycombe Wanderers vs. Sunderland - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's League One clash between Wycombe Wanderers and Sunderland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Seeking a return to the top of the League One pile on Saturday, Sunderland meet fellow promotion chasers Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park.

With their other rivals for the title in FA Cup action this weekend, the Black Cats can reach the summit with a win, but will be up against it when they encounter a home side sitting just four points and two places behind them.

Match preview

In recent weeks, Sunderland have started to stamp their authority on League One, sending a message of intent to their competitors for a precious place in the Championship next term.

Arguably, the Wearside outfit have not been in such impressive form since relegation from the second tier three years ago, and will be keen to maintain their momentum this weekend after previously missing out on the chance to play virus-stricken Fleetwood.

Indeed, Lee Johnson's men have laid dormant since the back-to-back wins that ended 2021 in fine style, as they took six points from six against Doncaster and Sheffield Wednesday - racking up eight goals while keeping a pair of clean sheets.

Their 5-0 destruction of Wednesday, who had previously boasted one of the best defensive records in the division, came courtesy of a Ross Stewart hat-trick, and sets Sunderland up for a period which could bolster their promotion hopes.

Before visiting title rivals Wigan at the end of February, only home games against Portsmouth and MK Dons should prove particularly challenging, while superb form at the Stadium of Light and a kind run of away fixtures mean Johnson can be confident of consolidating his side's position in the coming weeks.

However, they must first travel south to Buckinghamshire, where they meet a side they beat 3-1 when the teams met in the North-East last August, with Stewart striking twice on that occasion. Against a rising tide of illness and injuries in the camp, Sunderland would gladly take a repeat result on Saturday.

Unable to extend their unbeaten run to six games after suffering a 1-0 defeat away against Ipswich last Wednesday, fourth-placed Wycombe bounced back at the first opportunity by beating Charlton by the same scoreline just three days later.

Having already taken three points off the Addicks back in September, they travelled to The Valley in confident mood, and Gareth Ainsworth's men aided their promotion prospects with a victory sealed by an excellent first half goal.

Garath McCleary - who had claimed both of Wycombe's goals in their 2-1 home win over Charlton in the autumn - laid on the assist for top scorer Sam Vokes to net his seventh goal of the campaign and ultimately decide the game.

Following a blip in November, when they lost four of their first five fixtures, the Chairboys have since climbed up the standings and are in contention for an immediate return to the Championship after their demotion last year.

Winning games against their key rivals such as Sunderland, though, could prove the difference between success and failure in that endeavour, so Ainsworth will hope both McCleary and Vokes are in top form for Saturday's early kickoff.

Wycombe Wanderers League One form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W

Sunderland League One form:
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W

Sunderland form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W

Team News

Having seen their last game postponed due to an outbreak in their opponents' camp, Sunderland are apparently one positive COVID-19 result away from cancelling this weekend's fixture. A number of players have been ruled out with the virus, as on-loan defender Frederik Alves joined Aiden O'Brien, Ellis Taylor, and injury absentees Luke O'Nien and Jordan Willis on the sidelines this week.

Lee Johnson, then, will be nervously waiting for some to test negative so that they can return to first-team action by Saturday, as his squad was already depleted due to injuries and could drop below the 14-man minimum required.

In better news for the visitors, Carl Winchester - who has missed the last two games with a calf problem - is hopeful that he will be fit to feature if needed, but Everton loanee Nathan Broadhead is out with a hamstring injury until spring, so in-form Ross Stewart continues to lead the line up front.

Wycombe, meanwhile, will be able to welcome back Gareth Ainsworth to the touchline, after he missed their last two matches in isolation with COVID-19.

Ainsworth can call upon Jack Grimmer, who made a return to the team at Charlton and should play on Saturday, while Ryan Tafazolli remains a doubt, so young defender Chris Forino-Joseph - a starter in the Chairboys' last two matches - may continue in the back three.

Sullay Kaikai is unavailable, having left for Cameroon, where he will represent Sierra Leone at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Wycombe Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Stockdale; Grimmer, Jacobson, Forino-Joseph; McCarthy, Wheeler, Scowen, Obita; McCleary; Hanlan, Vokes

Sunderland possible starting lineup:
Hoffmann; Wright, Flanagan, Doyle, Gooch; Neil, Evans; Dajaku, Pritchard, Embleton; Stewart

We say: Wycombe Wanderers 1-1 Sunderland

Unbeaten in nine league matches, Sunderland should arrive as favourites, but a decimated squad may be forced to merely battle for a point against a combative Wycombe side.

The hosts have lost only twice at home this term and are capable of threatening the Black Cats' back line with an experienced strikeforce, so should hold them to a score draw at Adams Park.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 2.5:data

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