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Lee Johnson‘s side have not defended their EFL Trophy title and dropped out of the competition on Wednesday evening as they fell to a 1-0 defeat against League Two outfit Oldham Athletic.
However, a 2-1 triumph last weekend against Cambridge United ensured that the Black Cats remained fifth in the table and with one game in hand on leaders Rotherham, Sunderland can draw level on points with top spot.
Sunderland’s form at the Stadium of Light this season has almost been perfect, losing just one of their eight league matches on home soil, while Oxford did struggle on their travels at the start of this season.
A major factor as to why Sunderland have returned so many points on their own patch this campaign is that they have only conceded four goals in the North East, the best home defensive record in the division.
Ross Stewart is leading the way on the goalscoring front for Sunderland, having netted 10 times in 18 appearances, with the next best in the red and white stripes coming from Carl Winchester and Aiden McGeady, who both have three goals to their name.
Winchester is expected to start in centre midfield alongside Daniel Neil, who also provides an attacking threat from the middle of the pitch having registered five assists this season.
Nathan Broadhead, who is on loan from Everton, scored his first league goal for Sunderland against Cambridge and he is expected to start in an attacking role for the home side.
Oxford have been without seven first team players for the last two games due to COVID-19, meaning that goalkeeper Connal Trueman was brought in on an emergency loan from Birmingham City, but he has now returned to the Blues and Yellows keeper Simon Eastwood will return between the posts.
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Oxford’s top goalscorer Matty Taylor was forced to miss the last two games but he will be a welcome return this weekend, along with centre-back Elliot Moore.
Sunderland possible starting lineup:
Hoffman; O’Nien, Wright, Doyle, Gooch; Neil, Winchester; Broadhead, Pritchard, O’Brien; Stewart
Oxford United possible starting lineup:
Eastwood; Seddon, Thorniley, Moore, Long; Brannagan, Kane, Henry; Holland, Taylor, Sykes