Championship preview: Millwall vs. Sunderland

NEIL Harris has named the same team for three successive fixtures and there is no reason to think he will change a winning formula for the visit of Sunderland to The Den this weekend.

This time last year Sunderland were taking on Manchester City at the Stadium of light, while Millwall were preparing to face MK Dons as they duelled with Southend for a place in the top six in League One.

Sunderland haven't won in six league games, but showed they are not giving up without a fight as they plundered a 96th-minute equaliser against Middlesbrough last weekend, after recently coming from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Bristol City.

The Black Cats appointed Chris Coleman just before their 2-2 draw with the Lions at the Stadium of Light in November. That left Sunderland bottom of the Championship, four points off safety – the exact position they occupy ahead of this weekend.

Coleman has won just four league games in charge of Sunderland. However, despite the struggles of this Saturday's opponents, Harris emphasised they will still pose a threat.

"It's a great game to have at The Den, they are a huge club at this level and will bring a big following," Harris said. "It's a club that's in a bit of disarray.

"But we have to be diligent about the opposition and respectful of them because they've got some very, very good players. Three points are on offer and we want them in front of our fans.

"We want build on the last home win against Sheffield Wednesday and carry the momentum forward. Thirteen points in our last five games is a great return. We'll keep going about our business and our business all season has been thinking about winning the next game.

"We want to get to that magic 50-point mark and see where is takes us after that.

"You see with Sunderland, Birmingham, Reading, Hull to a certain extent, when you're down there, how tough it is to move away from that zone.

"Sunderland have had some really good moments under Chris that looked like they could be the catalyst to kick on, but it hasn't quite happened.

"They're in a massive transition period trying to rebuild, trying to sell the club. I can imagine Chris is very frustrated and has found it difficult to manage the scenario.

"But he's got a wealth of experience as a manager and has some very good players. He's a good football man with good staff around him.

"They are right in the mix to get out of it. For us, it's another opportunity to prove ourselves again. The boys can't wait for the game, the buzz about the place is immense. We're looking forward to it."

Coleman will be without Jake Clarke-Salter after the defender's red card against Middlesbrough. Paddy McNair is injured.

Midfielders Ovie Ejaria and Kazenga LuaLua could be available again after injury. Ashley Fletcher – who scored for Barnsley against Millwall in the 2016 League One play-off final – is also back after being ineligible against parent club Middlesbrough last weekend.

Form guide

Millwall: WDWWW

Sunderland: LDLLD

Millwall record against Sunderland

Played  37

Won 13 Drew 9 Lost 15

Probable Millwall team

4-4-2: Archer; Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith; Wallace, Saville, Williams, Marshall; Gregory, Morison.

Match odds

Millwall 10/13 Draw 9/4 Sunderland 9/2

Stats preview

  • Millwall haven't lost to Sunderland at The Den since 1995 – winning all three games since
  • Since the sides' 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light in November, Millwall have picked up 30 league points to Sunderland's 16
  • Millwall are bidding to win four successive Championship games for the first time since November 2012
  • On home results only, Millwall would be seventh in the Championship, two points off Sheffield United. On away results, Sunderland would be 20th, four points above relegation
  • Tim Cahill has scored eight career goals against Sunderland

Image: Millwall FC

John Kelly