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Black Cats keen to claw Bluebirds back in basement battle

This is what you call a ‘six-pointer’. Sunderland, whose relegation odds have steadily eased in recent weeks, from a massively odds-on 1/10 to an improved 10/11 after taking four points from Premier League title hopes Manchester City and Chelsea, face an altogether different challenge against Cardiff – the 1/6 favourites to go down.

It is expected to be a capacity crowd at the Stadium of Light, and to combat Cardiff’s return of forward Craig Bellamy, Sunderland could recall defender Phil Bardsley after he completed a two-match suspension.

The visitors are 3/1 with Coral to go back to Wales with three points, despite a fairly respectable recent away record, which includes a draw at Stoke and a victory at Southampton.

Sunderland’s Connor Wickham has found form since returning from a loan spell at Leeds United. The striker has scored three crucial goals in his last two games, and is 9/2 to net both the first and last goal against the Bluebirds.

Cardiff have found form though, and this could act as the catalyst they need. It is the first time since November that they have gone two consecutive matches without defeat, and this should inspire confidence among Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ranks.

Encouragingly for the Black Cats, their visitors have conceded 15 goals in their last six, so this should spur on both Fabio Borini and Wickham, who are favourites to start.

Also in contention is midfielder Lee Cattermole, who will make his 100th Premier League appearance if boss Gus Poyet gives this midfield destroyer the go ahead. He is 8/1 to mark the occasion with a goal at anytime, and 25/1 to open the scoring.

Cardiff’s best hopes could come in the shape of former Sunderland loanee Fraizer Campbell who has six goals this term – as many as he managed in four seasons in the north-east. He is a generous 2/1 to net at anytime.

However this match unfolds, it will be tense from the off, and should make entertaining viewing.