Gills skipper battling to be fit ahead of the trip to the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland v Gillingham
Sky Bet League One
Stadium of Light
Saturday April 2nd
Stuart O’Keefe is a major doubt, having been forced off in the win over Accrington Stanley with a knee injury. Dan Phillips, if 100% fit, is likely to be the man to step into the starting XI if O’Keefe is unavailable.
Mustapha Carayol and Gerald Sithole will likely miss the game due to their ongoing injury problems. Danny Lloyd and Alex MacDonald are out for the rest of the season. Robbie McKenzie (thigh) could miss out, with Harvey Lintott (hamstring) also struggling.
Ben Reeves (calf) should be fine to make the squad.
Alex Neil is hopeful that Danny Batth could be available to his squad after missing a month of action through injury. There is similar optimism for Alex Pritchard, who has not played in the previous three games.
However, Saturday’s game has likely come too soon for Aiden McGeady and Nathan Broadhead.
Neil Harris - "We have achieved nothing yet. Of course there is pressure on us because we want to get further ahead of the bottom four. There is no fear in my changing room at the moment.
"More and more fans are starting to travel. Saturday is a game I'm looking forward to. I don't think we will be adding to the group this weekend and we might not be as strong as we were last weekend unfortunately."
Alex Neil - "I went and watched them against Accrington at the weekend when they won, and [on video] against Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday, and Charlton this week.
“They are hard to beat, hard to break down, well-organised, they hit you well in transition, they are direct in their play, and effective, so we know what's coming.”
The club’s last meeting at The Stadium of Light was a dramatic one. Aiden McGeady had given Sunderland an early lead thanks to a deflected shot from 20 yards. However, Alex MacDonald equalised just before the half-hour mark as his volley from the edge of the area found the bottom corner.
That lead lasted 15 minutes after Robbie Cundy was judged to have fouled McGeady.
Grant Leadbitter saw his spot-kick initially saved, but the rebound sat perfectly for him to head home on the goal line. Gills battled the entirety of the second half to find a leveller, and they found it in the dying moments of the game.
Vadaine Oliver managed to flick the ball into the path of Jordan Graham, who rounded Lee Burge before blasting his effort into the roof of the net.
The goal meant that the Gills came away from the Stadium of Light with a well-deserved point.
A memorable trip to Sunderland came in November 2019 during the FA Cup first round. Aiden McGeady gave the hosts the lead after 15 minutes as his shot from the edge of the box managed to squeeze its way into the bottom corner. Gills equalised seconds after half-time as Olly Lee’s effort was fumbled over the line by Jon McLaughlin.
The game went to a replay where the Gills were victorious, and the club would go on to face West Ham United in the third round that season.
Tickets for Saturday’s fixture will NOT be available on the day. It is an all-ticket fixture, so do not travel up to Sunderland unless you have a ticket.
The Stadium of Light is a cashless stadium, so card payments are the only acceptable way of payment.
Sunderland win - 4/9
Draw - 16/5
Gillingham win - 11/2
Max Ehmer to score and Gillingham to win 1-0- 600/1.
Referee - Oliver Langford
Assistants - Philip Dermott and Richard Wild
Fourth Official - Trevor Kettle