League One play-off Final Preview

It is not too long ago that Charlton v Sunderland was a staple of the Premier League calendar, but it is now a League One play-off final.

Charlton finished the season in third, over-coming Doncaster to seal their place at Wembley, whilst Sunderland edged past Portsmouth.

This is a repeat of one of the most famous play-off final of all time, the 1998 final which ended 4-4 before Charlton won on penalties, but at that time the prize was a place in the Premier League.

Now Sunderland are looking to bounce back to the Championship at the first time of asking and manager Jack Ross is hopeful of promotion in his first season with the club.

“The way the season ended for us, we received the disappointment of not achieving automatic promotion, and we had a couple of indifferent performances towards the end as well,” said Ross.

“But I think it allowed us to take a breath, regroup, and realise we still had a chance for success this season. It probably came for us at a good time – that period between our final league match and the play-offs.

“So the last few weeks have been very enjoyable and the players have responded very well. We’ve been quite calm and focused – I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been at Wembley already this season.

“Even this week I’ve not noticed anything different about them. They’re in a good place, but there’s not any extra excitement about them. They’re just really focused on trying to win at the weekend.”

Charlton boss Lee Bowyer is staying calm and collected before the big day, and he hopes that rubs off on his squad.

“I’ve let the lads know from day one that we won’t carry anyone who will play for themselves as an individual. The group we’ve put together is an exceptional and unique group, and I’ve said that for a long time now,” he said

“You must know that your friend you’re playing alongside is going to help you if you’re having a bad time, or if you’re caught out of position.”

See below for a preview on the games, including predictions from former England, Crystal Palace and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray and our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and bet365’s Steve Freeth.

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Charlton Athletic 15:00 Sunderland
Wembley Stadium

TEAM NEWS: Sunderland hope to have star midfielder Aiden McGeady available again for selection.

Charlton have no new injury concerns, with Igor Vetokele looking likely to miss out with a thigh problem.is the only injury major doubt, with the Angola striker still nursing the thigh injury that has sidelined him for the past month.

KEY FACT: Charlton have lost just one of their eight meetings with Sunderland
MATCH ODDS: Charlton 21/10 Draw 11/5 Sunderland 31/20
bet365 Pick: Charlton to be promoted @10/11
ANDY SAYS: Have to go with Sunderland now, think they are back in the Championship…0-2
GRAEME SAYS: This is going to be close, but think it might be a repeat of 1998 and Charlton win on penalties…2-2

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