Sunderland play host to West Bromwich Albion on Monday evening looking for the win which could move the club into the Championship playoff places.
At a time when the Black Cats sit in 10th position in the standings, West Brom return after the World Cup break in 21st spot, despite winning their last three fixtures.
Since the arrival of Tony Mowbray during the early weeks of the season, Sunderland have been nothing but inconsistent, their longest winning and losing streaks standings at two matches.
However, the former is currently in play, Sunderland backing up a 2-1 victory at Birmingham City before the World Cup break with a 3-0 triumph over Millwall last weekend.
Two goals shortly after half time set Mowbray’s side on their way, and a third from Ellis Simms in the closing stages ensured that they matched their biggest success of the season.
With the burst of wins moving the club seven points clear of the relegation zone, the North-East outfit can instead turn their attention to gatecrashing the top six, Sunderland beginning the weekend just one point adrift of the playoffs.
Achieving that would be an impressive feat considering that Sunderland have won just three of their 10 encounters at the Stadium of Light during 2022-23.
From West Brom’s perspective, they did not want the break for the World Cup to arrive with Carlos Corberan delivering an instant change of fortunes.
The Baggies ended their November schedule with victories over Blackpool, Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City, each of those wins being accompanied by clean sheets.
While that was only enough to move West Brom into 21st place, it highlighted the improvements which have already been made under Corberan, and there is potential for that to continue after the prolonged period on the training pitch.
West Brom make the trip to Sunderland having collected just 10 points from nine games on their travels, but their two wins away from The Hawthorns have come since October 15.
Ross Stewart is expected to return to the Sunderland squad on Monday after not making an appearance since the end of August due to injury.
However, despite remaining at the top of the goalscoring charts during that time, the Scot will not be risked from the start, particularly given the level of Sunderland’s second-half display versus the Lions.
Barring any fitness issues, Mowbray is expected to name an unchanged starting lineup, with Patrick Roberts having to remain patient on the substitutes’ bench due to the form of Amad Diallo.
Corberan has revealed that a couple of unnamed West Brom players are doubtful due to minor issues, putting the prospect of an unchanged team being named at risk.
Daryl Dike may feature in the squad, despite illness in recent days, while Semi Ajayi is another player who could return to the squad after a long-term absence.
Sunderland possible starting lineup:
Patterson; Gooch, O’Nien, Batth, Alese; Evans, Neil; Diallo, Pritchard, Clarke; Simms
West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:
Palmer; Furlong, Bartley, O’Shea, Townsend; Yokuslu, Molumby; Wallace, Swift, Phillips; Thomas-Asante