Sunderland assistant boss Steve Parkin met the press ahead of the visit of Rochdale and it looks like there might see a little squad rotation tonight to keep everyone fresh for Saturday against Oxford: "The lads who have come in in last month will want to play, but it's great for the group as a whole to look round and see the quality we have got on the bench because at some stage that will be needed with suspensions looming, you never know when you might get an injury. They are all pushing each other in training, driving each other on, and it's a very tight group at the moment. It's a case of the players who are out of the side trying to force their way in, and those who are in the side have got to work to stay there. That kind of tension is good for the football club. The players reported this morning and all of them were involved in the session, not just the team that played at the weekend. Phil will probably make a late call on the team tomorrow afternoon. We're getting towards the business end of the season and every game is a vital one. It starts again tomorrow night. We have to put Saturday to one side. There are a lot of good teams in this division who are picking up points and we have to continue in the race."

On the injury front, there are no new knocks, but Joel Lynch will miss out again and Tom Flanagan is expected to stay in the side. "Joel is still struggling a little bit with his rib. I've seen him today and it's still quite sore, although we have had it checked out last week and it is not broken. Rib injuries can be awkward and they can take a little while to get over, so he won't come into consideration for tomorrow. But Tom did really well stepping into the side against Ipswich, and he made a fantastic tackle late in the game which prevented a goal and saved us a couple of points."

Parkin also believes that we are reaping the rewards of Chris Maguire's improved fitness regime. "He's just got to play with energy. The one thing everyone is aware of is that he's a very talented footballer. The key thing for us that when his running stats are right up there, that's when he's at his very best. We've had several games this season where he's covered a lot of ground in terms of sprints and overall distance. When he's up there and doing that he's a very talented footballer.”