Joe Gallen pleased Portsmouth will renew rivalry with Sunderland so early next season

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Joe Gallen is pleased Pompey will renew their rivalry with Sunderland so early next season. 

The League One fixtures release on Thursday revealed the Blues will make the trip to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, August 17.

That’s Kenny Jackett’s side’s third game of the campaign – and second away trip after visiting Shrewsbury on the opening day. 

Pompey developed a fierce rivalry with Jack Ross’ men last term.

The teams met five times in total, with the Blues clinching the Checkatrade Trophy at Wembley, while Sunderland prevailed in the play-off semi-final.

Defeat to Charlton in the play-off final confined Sunderland to another campaign in the third tier, however.

Pompey and Sunderland renew rivalries on August 17 Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey and Sunderland renew rivalries on August 17 Picture: Joe Pepler

When Pompey make the lengthy trip to Wearside, it’ll be the fifth time in 13 games the two heavyweights do battle.

What’s more, the Blues’ third away game in four matches will be at the Stadium of Light.

But Gallen stressed he’s happy to get the fixture out of the way – and will relish the meeting.

Pompey’s assistant manager said: ‘It was probably always meant to be!

‘To be able to go up to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, it’s such a massive game and it is a massive club.

‘It’s one straight away you’re looking forward to because it’s such an exciting fixture.

‘Sunderland are a huge club and there potentially could be more than 30,000 people there so we’re pleased to go there early.

‘It’ll be a big game, a big atmosphere and I’m pleased we’ve got them early. Hopefully we go out there and get some points.

‘I do look forward to the big games in front of the big crowds and atmospheres because that’s exactly what the players want.

‘It feels good to be part of it and be involved.

‘The history is there now from last season with the two clubs, the sets of fans and big games we’ve played against them.

‘They knocked us out of the play-offs and we feel like we owe them one and can go up there and get a win.

Pompey will again be rivalling Sunderland for promotion next season.

The bookmakers have the Black Cats as the clear favourites to go up into the Championship – and that's the way Gallen also regards it.
He added: ‘One hundred per cent Sunderland, like last season, will be clear favourites to get promotion.

‘We’ll be underdogs and Sunderland will be clear favourites to win the game again.’