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14 April 2016


Nickname: The Black Cats
Manager: Sam Allardyce  
2014-15: 16th 
Ground: Stadium of Light

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce believes mental fortitude could hold the key when his side visit Carrow Road in a crunch Barclays Premier League clash on Saturday (12:45pm).

"It's down to who handles the pressure best," said Allardyce, who has led Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers to survival in previous top-flight seasons.

"I've been in this position many times over many years and have managed to come out of it. This club has managed to do the same over the past four seasons and the players need to handle it mentally.

"If you lose control mentally then you lose the ability to make the right decisions. We have to handle the pressure and produce better than Norwich, and stop key moments letting us down at both ends of the pitch.

"There's no margin for error anymore. That's something we have to face up to and if we can do that then we can be successful.

"Norwich wouldn't be too displeased with a draw so there's much more pressure on us than them. We've got to try and win."

Attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri was signed by Sunderland in January from French side Bordeaux for an undisclosed fee to bolster their Barclays Premier League survival bid.

A Tunisian international, Khazri penned a four-and-a-half year contract at the Stadium of Light to become their fifth signing of the January transfer window.

He made his Black Cats debut as a half-time substitute during their 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City, before earning his first start at Liverpool four days later.

In mid-February he netted the opener in Sunderland's 2-1 victory over Manchester United via a long-distance free-kick misjudged by the visitors' defence, having turned 25 earlier that week.

Khazri has swiftly become a regular on Wearside, making nine appearances for his new side to date, with the goal against United his only strike in red and white so far.

Prior to moving to England, he had been in fine goalscoring form for Bordeaux, hitting the target five times in 25 appearances.

The Black Cats found themselves unable to halt the title charge of surprise contenders Leicester City at the Stadium of Light last Sunday, falling to a 2-0 defeat.

Jamie Vardy's second half brace eventually settled the contest, leaving Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League relegation zone with six games left to play.

After a competitive first half, Leicester went in front midway through the second period when Vardy collected Danny Drinkwater's direct pass forward before beating goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

Sunderland were presented with a golden chance to level with ten minutes remaining, only for substitute Jack Rodwell to send over from deep inside the box.

The hosts were punished for such profligacy when Leicester countered to wrap up victory through Vardy in the fifth minute of time added on, bringing an end to their run of four games without defeat.

All four of those games had been draws, with Sunderland's last win coming against Manchester United in February while their most recent away success was a month earlier at Swansea.

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Vito Mannone, Steve Harper.

Defenders: Billy Jones, Patrick van Aanholt, Wes Brown, Younes Kaboul, John O'Shea, DeAndre Yedlin, Jan Kirchhoff, Lamine Kone.

Midfielders: Lee Cattermole, Sebastian Larsson, Jack Rodwell, Jeremain Lens, Ola Toivonen, Yann M'Vila, Wahbi Khazri.

Attackers: Fabio Borini, Dame N'Doye, Jermain Defoe, Duncan Watmore.

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