KEITH Hill believes a travelling army of 4,500 supporters will bring their own pressures on tomorrow’s opponents Sunderland.

After the Black Cats sold out their allocation at the UniBol, Wanderers are expecting their biggest home crowd of the season so far.

Jack Ross’s side – beaten by Charlton Athletic in May’s play-off final at Wembley - have lost just one of their opening eight games and currently sit fourth in the table.

Hill expects them to remain in promotion contention throughout the campaign but says the size of their support brings with an extra burden.

“Sunderland have experience and they were unfortunate last season not to bounce straight back to the Championship,” he said.

“We know they are strong but there is a pressure on them to get promoted and there has been for two years. The pressure comes from that magnificent following.

“Have they failed under that pressure? I don’t think they have. But I think the expectation can become too much and it can weigh heavy.

“They are a good League One side but I don’t think the league has really formulated yet. I wouldn’t say there is a real stand-out. But I’d expect them to be around the top three or four all season.”

The two sides met in the top-flight just over seven years ago, Kevin Davies scoring twice for the Whites in a 2-2 draw.

Since then Wanderers have been relegated three times, promoted once and been through administration. Bolton have had five permanent managers during that time period, Sunderland nine.

“There are two big clubs in action – Bolton Wanderers are a massive club,” he said. “Whatever league we’re in that will continue. We have got big plans for this place and this is just the start of a journey.

“Playing Sunderland is a timely reminder that these two clubs have played in the Premier League. And it’s also a timely reminder that these two clubs have fallen foul of overspend.

“We are in good health now but it’s important we continue to do things the right way, as methodically as we can do them, so we can progress to getting to the heights we have been before – i.e. the Championship and the Premier League. “ Hill won’t be placing an extra pressure on his team ahead of kick-off to claim their first victory of the campaign.

“I don’t look at this one any differently than I have the other two games,” he said. “It’s another chance to assess, another chance to stay calm and look at the work we are going through. Scoreboard goes out of the equation.

“We are doing due diligence. It won’t be any different after tomorrow’s game.”