Bristol City writers map out how Sunderland match will unfold and their team selections

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All three of BristolWorld’s Bristol City reporters give their say on team selecton and how the match with Sunderland might play out

Bristol City are set to welcome a bumper-crowd at Ashton Gate when they welcome Sunderland for their first home Championship game of the season.

Robins fans in their thousands have taken up the club’s offer of discounted tickets with over 24,000 supporters set to be at the game at the time of writing.

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Nigel Pearson, who took over when fans weren’t permitted to attend games, could oversee the biggest attendance of his tenure.

It is a sign that despite a frustrating finish of 17th in the table last year, the fans are keen to show their support for the current regime.

Saturday’s set to be a day packed with plenty of action with Club legends such as Tony Thorpe, Ray Cashley, Brian Drysdale, Tony Ford, Mike Gibson and Gary Owers celebrated by fans on the pitch before kick-off.

It is also Flag Day which will see fans celebrate the lives of fans no longer with us, whilst bringing them into the ground, making for a see of red and white.

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In what is set to be an exciting affair, our Bristol City reporters give their opinion on how to expect City to line up and how the match may go.

Gregor MacGregor: City are looking to win their first home Championship game of the season for the fourth time since promotion from League One (in their eighth season in the second tier). And I don’t see too many changes from last week, despite the late loss to Hull, as they try to do that.

Nigel Pearson has hinted at Antoine Semenyo and Tomas Kalas returning soon, with Kalas in full training in midweek. With Zak Vyner ill during the last days, that position on the right side of the back three may be the only spot up for grabs. Timm Klose could get the nod there, with Vyner or Kalas on the bench.

Elsewhere, Mark Sykes did well at wing-back last week, which may be enough to keep him at right wing-back over Kane Wilson, while the front three looks likely to remain the same.

Predicted score: 2-1 to City

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Jordan Jones: Despite old themes recurring last week with losing points from a winning position and conceding late on, there is a different feeling about this City side. The business done has been astute and there’s a lot more optimism around the place with fans understanding of the situation they find themselves in.

I don’t foresee many changes in the team selection this weekend with perhaps Timm Klose coming in for Zak Vyner, who hasn’t trained fully and was absent in the open training session.

Right wing-back Kane Wilson had to make his debut from the bench last week and despite coming on, I think the performance of Mark Sykes is enough for him to hold down that starting spot. You can always put Sykes into the supporting role behind Chris Martin and Andi Weimann, but how do you accommodate Alex Scott? Scott needs as many games as he can in that position as that is where his long-term future lies.

Newly promoted Sunderland had a good first-half in their first game back against Coventry City, but were dominated in the second period, having to accept a point.

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Speaking to the Sunderland Echo reporters, they said that Alex Neil likes to match up ho the opposition do so hopefully it’s not a sluggish affair.

There’s a lot of problems that the Black Cats can cause, especially in their attack with Ross Stewart the man to watch out for. They’ll have enough to break down the defence but City will have enough to out score them.

Prediction: 2-1 to Bristol City.

Joe Dixon: The Robins will be looking to make a positive start at Ashton Gate this season, after it took Nigel Pearson’s side eight home matches to get a win on the board last term.

City’s last-gasp opening day defeat at Hull City would’ve brought back unpleasant memories for many affiliated with the club - especially for the travelling fans.

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However, a positive performance and the frustration of a perhaps undeserved loss could set the team in good stead for this weekend.

I don’t envisage a bulk of changes to the side that played at the MKM Stadium; with Mark Sykes, Joe Williams and Andreas Weimann the standout performers last week.

The most likely change to the line-up from the opening day is at centre-back. Zac Vyner has been suffering with illness through the week, which may provide an opportunity for Timm Klose to come in alongside Kal Naismith and Robert Atkinson.

Pearson admitted that if new signing Kane Wilson was fit last week, he would’ve likely started ahead of Sykes in the right wing-back role. However, I feel Sykes’ competitive debut has meritted another start for the 25-year-old against the Black Cats.

With over 24,000 fans expected at Ashton Gate, plus the added atmosphere of Flag Day, I expect a positive performance and result from the Robins.

Prediction: 3-1 to Bristol City.

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