Preview | Sunderland v Swansea City
Swansea City make their first trip to the Stadium of Light in nearly six years when they face Sunderland this afternoon (3pm).
The Swans make the long journey to Wearside looking to secure a first win of the calendar year, despite having enjoyed dominant periods in recent games against Burnley and Bristol City.
They will take on a Black Cats side who have been in good form of late, losing just two of their last 10 Championship games.
Tony Mowbray's side sat eighth in the table coming into the weekend, just a point outside the play-off places.
The visitors are just three points behind their hosts in 15th.
Liam Walsh is back out on the grass with the rest of his team-mates as he takes another step on his road to recovery from an Achilles injury, with a return to full training on the horizon.
Ben Cabango picked up a minor knock in the FA Cup clash with Bristol City but he is fit and available to face Sunderland.
Russell Martin has no other injury concerns ahead of the trip to the nort-east, although Morgan Whittaker has not travelled following transfer interest in the forward.
Russell Martin: "There is very little between us and them in terms of points so it should be a good game.
"I really like Sunderland as a team, they were great in the second half when we played them earlier in the season.
"They are a young, vibrant team who play with so much energy.
"They have a manager who is so experienced at this level and they pose a lot of threats.
"I am sure it will be a great atmosphere, I really enjoyed playing at the Stadium of Light as a player and it is a really good test for us.
"There will be a big crowd and it is up to us to be able to manage that, to be able to show what we are about and perform strongly in front of 40,000 people.
"It's a challenge we are really looking forward to."
Tony Mowbray: “The perception of Swansea is really interesting, I’ve been studying them this week. They are number one for the 24 teams in terms of ball possession in our league, number two for shots at goal. Yet there is a perception that they are not having a good season.
“They are a very good football team and we felt that in the first half in our away game until we got it sorted out.
"Their centre half (Harry) Darling just kept waltzing through the middle of the team and giving us problems. Until we addressed that, we were in trouble because they are a really good football team.
“Their possession stats and their number of passes in the final third are all there for teams to see. We have to be wary of them.
“It’s a difficult game. There is a conundrum of playing the team that has the ball the most of any teams in the league yet we are at home and wanting to engage our fans. They don’t want to see Swansea coming to our pitch and pass the ball around.
“We need to get after the game and make sure they know they are in a football match. Make there are some tackles and challenges and make sure when we have the ball, we are good with it."
Remember the last time?
Swansea City moved to the brink of Premier League safety as goals from Fernando Llorente and Kyle Naughton gave them a crucial 2-0 win on their last visit to the Stadium of Light.
Victory against Everton the previous weekend had put Swansea's fate back in their own hands, and they made a good start when Llorente guided a header into the corner of the net in just the ninth minute.
And Naughton struck a decisive blow in first-half stoppage time, firing a rising, angled strike into the top corner of the net.
Paul Clement's side saw the game out from there, and Hull's defeat to Crystal Palace the following day would guarantee top-flight status for another season.
2 - The Swans have lost just two of their last 19 meetings with Sunderland, and were victorious in the reverse fixture in SA1 earlier this season.
282 - Matt Grimes has made 282 line-breaking passes so far this season. This is the most by any player in the Championship, and more than any player plying their trade in the top-five European leagues.