There may be more alluring rewards in football than a trip to Bradford City but Fulham and Sunderland meet tonight knowing that a win would put them within reaching distance of the FA Cup sixth round.
These two sides drew 0-0 at the Stadium of Light on 24 January and the winner of tonight’s fourth-round replay will take on League One Bradford – who famously won 4-2 at Stamford Bridge on the same day – at Valley Parade on Sunday 15 February. It gives tonight’s game higher stakes than some might think.
The teams may well have a different priority. Fulham and Sunderland would both desperately want to be in the Premier League next season, although that is far more likely for the visitors.
Gus Poyet’s side won on Saturday and are 14th, four points clear of the relegation zone. Their next three league games are at Swansea, then home to Queen’s Park Rangers and West Bromwich. Seven or nine points would be invaluable, so changes at Craven Cottage are quite likely. Ricky Alvarez and Emanuele Giaccherini could come in, while John O’Shea may be rested.
Fulham are 13 points from the Championship play-off places. They need to go on a run and Kit Symons does not have all his players to pick from tonight. Scott Parker, their captain, is a doubt and Emerson Hyndman has a shoulder injury.
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