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ONES TO WATCH: CARDIFF CITY

Following the end of the March international break, Sunderland are back in Championship action on Good Friday as we take on Cardiff City. Hopefully, our trip to Wales could be the start of a much-needed resurgence in form - after a winless run stretching much longer than we would like to admit! However, if Sunderland are to taste victory at the Cardiff City Stadium, we will need to keep a close eye on these five Bluebirds.


PERRY NG

Perhaps even more incredible than the lack of vowels in his surname is the fact that the Cardiff defender is their leading scorer in the league this season. Ng has scored six goals this campaign, one more than Karlan Grant, who we will discuss later. The former Crewe Alexandra full-back has been an ever-present figure in the Cardiff team since his arrival at the club in 2020. He has registered 141 league appearances during that period and is certainly more than reliable. As well as being assured defensively, the Sunderland back-line will have to closely monitor Ng’s movement in the attacking third to prevent him adding to his already impressive goal tally!


DIMITRIOS GOUTAS

Not so much a ‘one to watch,’ as such, but more a player to try and get past! Given Sunderland’s obvious struggles in the striker department, Goutas is the last man that our forwards want to be marked by. The Greek central-defender has played every single league game for the Bluebirds this season, all 38. If that isn’t a good indication into his solidity at the heart of defence, then his caps for the Greek national team definitely are! At 29-years-old, Goutas is no rookie and the likes of Mason Burstow and Hemir (or whoever Mike Dodds pulls out a hat on Friday), will have to bring their A-game (which we are obviously still yet to see)


RYAN WINTLE

Next up is another former Crewe Alexandra man, not bad publicity for the Railwaymen! Ryan Wintle mainly operates as a central-defensive midfielder, sitting just ahead of the Bluebirds’ back-line. He signed a new three-year deal with Cardiff last August, to keep him at the Welsh outfit until the summer of 2026. Despite his best assets being defensive duties, like retrieving possession in key areas, Wintle has also assisted four times this season- the second most in the Cardiff squad. He recently scored a 95th minute equaliser to level the scoring at 1-1 with Ipswich. Callum O’Dowda incredibly snatched a last gasp winner in the tenth minute of injury time to seal a memorable 2-1 win for Cardiff. Not bad for fighting spirit! One thing is for certain- Sunderland will definitely need to keep going until the final whistle!


JOSH BOWLER

A name that may be familiar to some Mackems. Sunderland have been linked with Josh Bowler’s signature on more than one occasion in recent years. Bowler is currently on loan at Cardiff from Premier League side Nottingham Forest. The English winger even joined Greek Super League giants Olympiacos on loan but his lack of regular minutes resulted in Bowler being recalled by Forest. Although he may have only scored three times so far this campaign, his close-control and technical dribbling ability could be a challenge to deal with. A product of the Everton youth-system, Bowler is also no stranger to the English football pyramid, (unlike many of our team!) He has previously represented QPR, Hull City and Blackpool. Hopefully we can keep him quiet.


KARLAN GRANT

I told you his name would crop up later in the list! Any player that costs a Premier League side £15 million on a staggering six-year deal is worth a mention. That’s how much West Brom paid to acquire Grant’s services from Huddersfield in 2020. Now, you are probably wondering how he has scored less times than their right-back, Perry Ng, and in all honesty I am not sure either! It’s certainly not due to a lack of minutes, as Grant has played 34 league games for Cardiff in 2023/24. In his defence, he has scored five goals and assisted twice, (which would make him a clinical goal-scorer in our attack if you aren’t sure!) Grant has generally been playing on the right-flank this season, rather than through the middle, - with Yakou Meite leading the line.


SUMMARY

Overall, although Cardiff evidently have some very talented footballers, there is no reason why Sunderland can’t compete with the Bluebirds. Our dismal run has to end somewhere so we cannot afford to leave Wales empty-handed. Here’s hoping that Sunderland’s ‘Good Friday’ isn’t a bad one!

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