Sunderland now told to keep star beyond January as Black Cats Championship prediction made

Sunderland return from the international break in good shape to repeat their top-six performance from last season, when they came within a whisker of defeating play-off champions Luton Town in the semi-finals.
Sunderland is presently sixth in the Championship table. They have the same number of points as West Brom and Hull City, but have a better goal difference.

Tony Mowbray’s side has gone unbeaten in their past three league games and will be looking to replicate their success from last season. They’re in good shape to do so, but they’ll be aware that the forthcoming holiday season might be vital to their plans.

Here, a group of The72 writers evaluate Sunderland’s season so far and forecast where they will finish in the league this season…

John Reid

Tony Mowbray will be delighted to have his team back in the play-off spots once again. It was always going to be tough to repeat last season’s perhaps surprising top six finish, even more so when main striker Ross Stewart was sold to Southampton.

“But apart from a few blips, which can always happen in the Championship, Sunderland have managed to cope well with the absence of Stewart. Jack Clarke has stepped up to the plate and scored nine goals.”

Sunderland's Jack Clarke discusses his Premier League aspirations after  leaving Tottenham and Leeds United

Where will Sunderland finish this season?

“There are a lot of teams in and around the play-off picture at the moment, and finishing in the top six could come down to who scores the most goals. That is why it is vital that Sunderland don’t sell Clarke in January.

“They could find it difficult to replace Clarke’s goals if he should leave. That is not a risk worth taking at the moment for Tony Mowbray’s side, especially given their current league standing.

“If Clarke stays at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland are capable of a play-off finish, probably in their current league position of 6th. Should he depart, then the Black Cats might narrowly miss out.”

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