Peterborough United Preview - Away, Jan 8
SUNDERLAND START their 2012 F.A Cup trail at Peterborough United's London Road this afternoon in a game which will not be easy.
Darren Ferguson's side may be a division below the Black Cats but there's plenty of dangerous players in the Posh's armoury who will be gunning for something of a cup upset.
After a bright start to life back in the Championship, Peterborough have slipped somewhat and currently find themselves in the comfortable obscurity of 15th place.
Ferguson has once again used his contacts shrewdly, bringing in two Manchester United youngsters on-loan in Ryan Tunnicliffe and Scott Wooton whilst also snapping up Celtic prospect Josh Thompson on loan and Chelsea left-back, Ben Gordon.
Under owner Darragh McAnthony and Ferguson, Peterborough have become prolific scourers of the non-league in order to build their side, a tact which has served them extremely well.
Two of the three men who were central to Peterborough's rise into the Championship have now left in Craig Mackail-Smith (Brighton) and Aaron McLean (Hull), but the 'White Pele' still remains in George Boyd.
However, all three came out of the non-leagues, McLean was with Grays Athletic, Mackail-Smith with Dagenham & Redbridge and Boyd at Stevenage.
Boyd, 26, was poached from Hertfordshire outfit Stevenage in 2007 for a mere £260,000 and has quickly gone on to prove astonishing value for money.
The winger-cum-forward has recently broken the 200 league start mark for the Posh, rattling in 56 goals in the process. It looked like the Scottish international would be lost when Posh slipped out the Championship in 2010 as he spent the final months of the campaign on loan at Nottingham Forest. However Boyd returned to fire Fergie Jnr. and co. back into the second-tier at the first-time of asking.
Another exciting playmaker within the ranks is former Rushden & Diamonds wide-boy, Lee Tomlin.
As hot-headed as he is creative, the Leicester-born winger can also play up top. Peterborough followed their usual model of snapping up non-league gems to bring the 22 year-old to London Road last season after 27 goals in 100 league starts for Rushden. Tomlin has 13 in 47 already for his current employers as well as two red cards.
Finally, there's Paul Taylor - a man who has been no stranger to controversy throughout his relatively brief career.
Now 24, the explosive forward has taken in a spell abroad in Belgium, enjoying a period with Belgian giants Anderlecht. Taylor was kicked out of his first English club, the no w defunct Chester City, after traces of cocaine were found following a random drugs test. The forward has cleaned up his act now though and continues to be dangerous on the field.
Ferguson will be without skipper Grant McCann for this tie, whilst Lee Frecklington is also injured. Tomlin should be fit enough to be involved somewhere. The returning Nicky Ajose is cup-tied.
Martin O'Neill cannot call on the cup-tied Nyron Nosworthy, whilst Wes Brown, Michael Turner and Titus Bramble are all out.
There is some good news in that Phil Bardsley and Connor Wickham are both fit again but they could find themselves straight swaps for Jack Colback and Nicklas Bendtner respectively, who are both struggling.
Peterborough United: Jones; Bennett, Zakuani, Wooton, Alcock; Boyd, Tunnicliffe, Newell, Rowe; Sinclair & Taylor.
Sunderland: Mignolet; Gardner, O'Shea, Kilgallon, Bardsley; Larsson, Cattermole, Vaughan, Richardson; Sessegnon; Wickham.