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This is proving to be a very long season for Sunderland and with the Black Cats sitting firmly at the foot of the Championship table as things stand, the threat of back-to-back relegations looms large over the Stadium of Light. A 1-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers last time suggests that manager Chris Coleman has bitten off more than he can chew and it may well be that he was wishing he was back in his somewhat comfortable job with the Welsh national side once again. Nevertheless it's unlikely that even the very best managers would succeed where Coleman has thus far failed.
A major factor in Sunderland's downfall has been lack of resources from which to call upon and the attacking options available to Coleman are somewhat lacking as we head towards the business end of the season. With Ashley Fletcher ineligible to face former employers Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon, Coleman will call upon 18-year-old Joel Asoro and fellow teenager Josh Maja to lead the line. Indeed with just a solitary win in their last nine league outings, the future for the Black Cats is becoming ever more grim.
The mood in the Middlesbrough camp is far more positive with the Teessiders closing in on the play-offs thanks to some positive results of late. They enjoyed a fine 3-1 win over Hull City last time out and Tony Pulis can call on forwards Patrick Bamford and Rudy Gestede to bang in the goals, both players adding to the scoresheet against the Tigers earlier this week. Middlesbrough have been less impressive on the road with recent defeats at Norwich City and Cardiff City, however three points look pretty likely this weekend as Pulis' men lock horns with a Sunderland side which look increasingly likely to be cast adrift at the foot of the Championship table.
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