Sunderland will play Newcastle in a Tyne & Wear derby with a difference on Tuesday as the Magpies’ Under-23 squad will visit the Stadium of Light in the Football League Trophy.
The Black Cats have endured a spectacular fall from grace in recent years and, while Jack Ross has them on course to return to the Championship, it would be an enormous humiliation to lose to their great rival’s youth team.
Newcastle’s academy side finished with a perfect record in a group containing Notts County, Doncaster and Grimsby so are not to be treated lightly.
|Game||Sunderland vs Newcastle Utd U23s|
|Date||Tuesday, January 8|
|Time||7:45pm GMT / 2:45pm ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be streamed on NUFC TV.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be streamed on NUFC TV.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Ruiter, McLaughlin, Stryjek|
|Defenders||Baldwin, Flanagan, Ozturk, James, Hume|
|Midfielders||Cattermole, Mumba, Power, Robson, McGeouch, O'Nien, Honeyman, Gooch|
|Forwards||Watmore, McGeady, Maguire, Sinclair, Wyke, Maja, Shields|
Sunderland boss Jack Ross will deploy his usual Football League Trophy team for this match, meaning that it will largely be a fringe squad that he uses.
Defender Jack Bainbridge would normally have started this match but misses out because of a hamstring problem. Adam Matthews, Bryan Oviedo and Glenn Loovens are first-team players who have featured previously in this competition but are all out injured currently.
Possible Sunderland starting XI: Ruiter; O’Nien, Flanagan, Ozturk, James; Mumba, McGeough; Watmore, Diamond, Kimpioka; Sinclair
|Position||Newcastle U23 players|
|Defenders||O'Connor, Cass, Bailey, Gibson, Longelo, Walters, Sterry|
|Midfielders||Watts, M. Longstaff, S. Longstaff, Sangare, Wilson|
|Forwards||Roberts, Fernandez, Allan, Toure, Charman, Bartlett, Sorensen, Juanito|
Newcastle will aim to deploy a team as close as possible to the one that has come out on top of all four of their matches in this competition to date.
Elias Sorensen, Kelland Watts and Cal Roberts are among those to have especially caught the eye in the tournament.
Sean Longstaff and Jamie Sterry could drop down from the first team to feature in this encounter.
Possible Newcastle U23 starting XI: Harker; Walters, Bailey, Watts, Gibson; M. Longstaff, Sangare; Allan, Roberts, Wilson; Sorensen
Betting & Match Odds
Sunderland are hot 1/3 favourites to win this match at bet365 . Newcastle are 8/1 to cause an upset that would live long in the memory, while a draw can be backed at 4/1.
Both Sunderland and Newcastle Under-23s lie only three matches from Wembley, adding spice to a game that promises to be a great occasion.
Sunderland boss Jack Ross has done his best to play down the importance of this fixture for his club, reiterating that it is simply a Football League Trophy match, doubtless aware that his side are in a no-win situation against the visiting academy team.
“That is a consequence of us having suffered relegations, that is the soreness when a fixture like this comes around,” the Scotsman said ahead of this encounter.
“The drive for me is to take the club back into these fixtures properly. This isn’t a derby that is seen as the one that everybody would want it to be.
“It gives us the extra motivation that I will be able to manage Sunderland in a league game against Newcastle, ideally in the top league.
“Genuinely for me this is just another Checkatrade Trophy match. It falls in between two really busy league games. Players have treated every Checkatrade Trophy game in the same way and this will be no different.”
If, for the hosts, this is an ignominious fixture, for the visitors it represents a massive opportunity.
“Before the competition even starts you have the idea or the picture of Wembley in your head,” Newcastle keeper Nathan Harker admitted to the Chronicle. “It's far away at the minute and there is a long way to go.
“It is a big competition for us and we're loving it.”
Newcastle’s U23 side met Sunderland’s U23 side on Friday in a Premier League 2 Division 2 fixture and had to come from 2-0 down to pinch a 3-2 success, with Rosaire Longelo-Mbule grabbing the winner in stoppage time.