Tranmere Rovers travel down to the capital on Sunday to face high-flying Sunderland in the Papa John’s Trophy final.

The Wirral club are on the back of two successive wins against third tier opposition, knowing that a third will equate to silverware.

Third time lucky

Despite drawing confidence from victories against Peterborough United and Oxford United in the previous round, Sunderland are the in-form side of League One, and will be looking to continue their resurgence under new manager Lee Johnson.

The Black Cats have kept five clean sheets in their last six league games, using a rather makeshift backline in the absence of their three main central defenders.

However, Tranmere are also in the form of their lives, losing a single game since the turn of the year. A run that has taken them from 13th to 4th in the League Two table.

Team news

Tranmere were dealt a huge injury below for Sunday’s final, with Keith Hill confirming that top scorer James Vaughan is set to undergo an operation on his knee and will miss Sunday’s clash.

The 32-year-old has netted 21 times this season and would have lead the line against his former club, making his absence an ever harder pill to swallow.

Whilst no fresh injury concerns arose from Tuesday night’s victory at Southend United, Keith Hill will be wanting to wrap his players in cotton wool before Sunday.

Sunderland’s brilliant form comes as a surprise to most, with a number of key individuals missing out in recent weeks.

However, the Black Cats have been boosted by five players returning to training this week – a problem Johnson will welcome.

Dion Sanderson and Carl Winchester are not able to play on Sunday due to representing another club in this season’s competition, making centre-back Bailey Wright’s return a much-needed one.

What do the stats say?

Sunderland won both fixtures last year in a season that ultimately ended in relegation for Tranmere.

The Black Cats secured a convincing 5-0 home win, before a scrappier 1-0 victory completed the double.

Sunderland have also scored 22 goals in their seven games in the competition thus far, compared to Tranmere’s 15.

The Wembley-bound duo have conceded eight goals each in their respective run’s to the final, with goals the theme in both their journey’s.

Photo courtesy of Lewis Clarke – Under Creative Commons