Sam Allardyce is set to make a return to Boleyn Ground as his relegation-threatened outfit face resurgent West Ham United on Saturday.
The Hammers have been in fine form this season under the guidance of Slaven Bilic who replaced Allardyce as the London club’s manager last summer.
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Big Sam managed the Hammers for four seasons between 2011 and 2015 and faces his successor for the first time.
Bilic boasts the best win rate of any West Ham boss in the Premier League era and during a press conference, had only kind words for his adversary who has given the Black Cats a decent chance of surviving relegation.
“Sam did great for West Ham,” said the former Croatia boss in his press conference on Thursday.
“He has managed for 20 years very successfully and he took over West Ham at a moment when we were in the Championship. He got us up straight away and stabilised us in the Premier League, so he did a great job here.
West Ham are already in the last eight of the FA Cup following a big win over Liverpool while Sunderland are still looking for their best form in the league. However, the recent win over Manchester United could boost their survival hopes.
Slaven Bilic is keen on getting all three points but will have to do this without star defender, Winston Reid who is still nursing his hamstring but could return next week.
Sunderland meanwhile, welcome back Younes Kaboul, Jan Kirchhoff and Seb Larson but Jeremain Lens is a confirmed absence.