The Black Cats welcome Joey Barton and Fleetwood to the Stadium of Light for a huge game between two of League One’s early promotion contenders.

Joey Barton will naturally grab a lot of the headlines at the Stadium of Light this weekend as the former Newcastle United player has been outspoken about his former rival over the years.

He gave a rather interesting pre-game interview where he declared his side as better than Sunderland’s man for man.

Jack Ross will no doubt be using that as motivation for his side that dropped points last weekend against Oxford United at home.

Midweek, Sunderland defeated Stoke U21s in a rather dull Checkatrade Trophy group game on penalties. Importantly, they gave first starts to Tom Flanagan, Dylan McGeouch, Ethan Robson and Charlie Wyke as they work their way back to full fitness.

Fleetwood are undefeated in the league since the opening day where they lost at home to AFC Wimbledon, included in that run is an impressive 5-0 away win at Scunthorpe and a 2-0 away win at Oxford.

Team news

Sunderland have nearly got a fully fit squad for the first time this season with Duncan Watmore and Aiden McGeady the only players not close to full fitness.

That means Glenn Loovens and Adam Matthews are back in contention according to boss Jack Ross.

Max Power will unfortunately miss the game after his red card last weekend. The club did appeal the decision but it was turned down.

Prediction: Sunderland 2-1 Fleetwood

Could Sunderland come from behind to win another game? Fleetwood look like a difficult opponent and Barton will have his side fired up for the occasion.

That being said, the Black Cats should have more than enough to see them off – especially since they have some actual striker depth now.