Barry-Murphy begins spell as permanent Rochdale boss against Sunderland
New Rochdale boss Brian Barry-Murphy faces a major test to preserve his unbeaten start as promotion-chasing Sunderland head for the Crown Oil Arena on Saturday.
Barry-Murphy was appointed as Keith Hill’s permanent replacement on Wednesday after guiding the relegation-threatened League One club to two wins and two draws as caretaker manager to rekindle their survival hopes.
Keeper Josh Lillis resumed after a seven-game injury lay-off for last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Gillingham with emergency loan signing Andy Lonergan having deputised in his absence.
Rekeil Pyke is closing in on a return after six games on the sidelines, as is loan signing Zach Clough, who has missed the last three.
Sunderland boss Jack Ross will make late decisions over influential midfielders Aiden McGeady and Lee Cattermole.
McGeady limped out of Wednesday night’s 3-0 win at Accrington at half-time with an ankle/foot problem which Ross is hopeful is only minor, while Cattermole missed out completely at the Wham Stadium with a niggling injury in a similar area.
Lewis Morgan replaced McGeady – who scored his third goal in four days in that game – in midweek, while George Honeyman is back in contention after completing his three-match ban.
Full-back Reece James is set to miss out with a groin problem, although with Bryan Oviedo and Denver Hume back fit, Ross has options.