Premier League Preview: Swansea City v Sunderland
By Football News
New Sunderland manager Gus Poyet begins his reign with a difficult trip to Swansea City on Saturday.
The former Brighton and Hove Albion boss has had the luxury of an international break to settle into his new surroundings, but will be eager to take charge of his first match as Sunderland go in search of their first Premier League win this season.
Poyet may find a glimmer of hope in the fact that Swansea have not won in eight home matches - a record stretching back to March and the longest in the Premier League.
Swansea are also without a win against Sunderland since 1982, with three of the four Premier League clashes between the teams ending all square, including a forgettable goalless draw in January.
Sunderland have won just one point in seven matches this season, leading to the sacking of Paolo di Canio, and although they improved under caretaker manager Kevin Ball, they lost to both Liverpool and Manchester United.
In good news for Poyet, striker Steven Fletcher could be back in action on Saturday after missing almost a month with a shoulder injury.
"There is a big possibility," Poyet told the Sunderland Echo. "It's some of the very good news from this week.
"Every player is important but we know in football that there are a few positions that are key – the goalkeeper, the spine of the team and the main man up front scoring goals.
"We need goals, we need players who have got the ability and Fletcher is one of those players."
Fletcher has scored 12 goals in his 31 Premier League appearances for Sunderland, but Poyet may be without goalkeeper Kieren Westwood after he pulled out of the Republic of Ireland squad with a shoulder problem.
Defender Wes Brown is sidelined with a calf injury for Sunderland.
Swansea also have their injury issues, with Wales defenders Ashley Williams and Ben Davies to miss the fixture due to ankle and hamstring problems.
Midfielders Jonathan de Guzman and Pablo Hernandez are likely to return from injury issues of their own though, while Michu will feature after returning from a surprise international call-up for Spain.
Despite impressive form in the UEFA Europa League, Swansea have dropped to 15th in the Premier League table, making them desperate for a win on Saturday.
And given Sunderland's precarious position, a tense encounter is expected in South Wales.