Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat is expecting his players to bounce back strongly against Norwich City after they began their Premier League campaign with a disappointing 4-2 reverse at Leicester City.
Advocaat watched on as Sunderland fell 3-0 behind inside the opening 25 minutes at the King Power Stadium, before second-half goals for Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher softened the blow of defeat somewhat.
Nevertheless, the Dutchman was less than impressed with the display and has called on his squad to show the kind of fighting spirit that kept them in the top flight at the end of 2014-15.
“We did not expect that, you can lose but not the way we lost,” Advocaat told Sunderland’s official website.
“We have to realise that we are a team who has to fight and that was the strength of our team last season. We need the passion and the aggression and all of that was not there.
“They [the players] can see they can still do it and that’s what we need. On Saturday we have to show that we want to win.
“We have a beautiful stadium and great fans. I felt sorry for them last Saturday. We have to show that we can do much better.
“Every game is important. First is Norwich and it’s important we get a result. There’s no reason to panic but as long as everyone realises what went wrong that’s the most important thing.”
Advocaat will be without Adam Johnson, the winger set to miss at least eight weeks with a shoulder injury, while Jordi Gomez’s knee problem and Danny Graham’s knock render them doubtful.
New signing Yann M’Vila is available, though, despite the midfielder being sent off while playing for Sunderland’s Under-21 side against Norwich last Sunday.
Like Sunderland, Norwich come into Saturday’s clash on the back of an opening-day defeat, after their return to the Premier League was soured by a 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace at Carrow Road.
Nathan Redmond came off the bench to halve the deficit in that game, and the England Under-21 international is more than ready for a starting berth should he be selected by boss Alex Neil.
“The gaffer has his reasons in what team he wants to play and essentially as a professional footballer you have to respect that,” Redmond said.
“I didn’t play 90 minutes in our pre-season because I played three 90s the previous month [for England U-21s]. My last 90 was on the 24th of June. So it’s not really been about minutes for me. It’s been about maintaining me and making sure I didn’t blow up over pre-season.
“Whether I’m starting or on the bench I’ve got to give my support to the boys and when called upon I’ve got to be ready.”
For the visitors, Kyle Lafferty (knee) and Martin Olsson (shoulder) are both doubts, while Youssouf Mulumbu (foot) is a longer-term absentee.