Wolverhampton V Sunderland at Molineux Stadium : Match Preview
03 December 2011 01:01
Wolves expect Black Cats backlash
Wolves boss Mick McCarthy admits the task of overcoming Sunderland in Sunday's crunch relegation clash at Molineux has been made harder by the expected arrival of Martin O'Neill as manager.
McCarthy anticipates Sunderland will run around "like scalded cats" if O'Neill is watching from the stands.
The Wolves fans have vented their anger towards McCarthy - during the recent home clash with Swansea and media phone-ins - after a run of eight defeats in the last 10 games. The two sides are locked on 11 points, just two points above the bottom three, and the stakes could hardly be higher when they meet at Molineux.
McCarthy, who also managed Sunderland, said: "I can't put any more onus on this game with Manchester United next up for us. We are level on points with Sunderland, and both of us having a tough time.
"One of the clubs has lost their manager so we can't dress this up as anything else than a really big, important game. Maybe that has been made slightly tougher because of Steve going and there is generally a response if normal service is resumed.
"If Martin O'Neill is sat in the stand, they will be running around like scalded cats trying to impress. It has not made my job any easier. Maybe it has put a bit more pressure on my team and us to play well and it might make it a little bit harder."
Wolves expect to have a quartet of players back in contention.
Midfielders Jamie O'Hara and Stephen Hunt will return after missing the defeat at Chelsea through suspension while striker Kevin Doyle (knee) and defender Richard Stearman, who will play with a cast on his broken wrist, are expected to be available.
But midfielder and former captain Karl Henry will have to serve a one-game ban after incurring his fifth yellow card of the campaign at Stamford Bridge.
Caretaker Sunderland boss Eric Black is unlikely to make wholesale changes.
Black, who has taken charge of team affairs in the wake of Steve Bruce's departure, has little room for manoeuvre with Titus Bramble and Fraizer Campbell (both knee) back in training but short of match fitness.
Striker Connor Wickham (knee ligaments) and goalkeepers Simon Mignolet (fractured nose and eye socket) and Craig Gordon (knee) also remain on the sidelines.