Would A Team Of Supposed Targets Beat Sunderland's Current Team?

Adam Johnson: Linked with a move to Sunderland, and could be a thorn in our current side in this fantasy match-up.

It already feels like the transfer window has been open for ages what with the list of names linked to the club growing and growing by the minute, almost literally.

Despite the short time it's been open, there's still been more than enough names linked to create an entirely new team at the Stadium Of Light. Two to three teams even, it really has been that wild. This is what got me thinking. If we were to put up our current starting eleven, against a team of the linked names so far, who would come out on top? Well, wonder no more, we've tried to create that scenario!

Starting off with our own team, we all know it fairly well, so supposing everyone's fit and going with what we think would be selected as opposed to who we'd like to see selected, you'd think we'd line up like this, given the personnel available at this very moment in time;

Simon Mignolet

Phil Bardsley - John O'Shea - Wes Brown - Kieran Richardson

Seb Larsson - Lee Cattermole - Jack Colback - James McClean

Craig Gardner

Stephane Sessegnon

Again, this is what I'd expect to be the lineup. When Nicklas Bendtner fancied the week off, as he was wont to do last season, we often saw Martin O'Neill go with Sessegnon as the lone striker, with Craig Gardner the most advanced of the midfielders in behind him.

There's the obvious temptation to start with say Connor Wickham, Ji Dong-Won or Fraizer Campbell, and on a personal level I'd prefer any of those three to Gardner, but as said, this is more what I'd expect that what I'd want.

So on to the opposition, comprised of players who have been linked with Sunderland so far this post-season (and a few from when the season was drawing to a close), as the list of names grows and grows almost hourly it seems as newspapers pluck names out of the hat to link with us.

Tono

Carlos Cuellar - Zak Whitbread - Robert Huth - Jorge Fucile

Mohammed Diame - Manuel Fernandes

Junior Hoilett - Victor Moses - Adam Johnson

Steven Fletcher

So in goal we have former Racing Santander 'keeper Tono, aged 32 and currently without a club as was linked with the club back in late April. Honestly, couldn't tell you a thing about him, but it's not likely he was going to be brought in to bother Simon Mignolet or Kieren Westwood too much.

The back four has a very mixed look about it. Carlos Cuellar, unlikley as he is to sign, would be a decent back-up but little more. Zak Whitbread was recently released by Norwich City, and again unlikely to make an impact on the first team should he even be under consideration by O'Neill. In this fantasy match-up, you'd have to imagine Sessegnon and McClean would be licking their lips at the proposition of facing both.

In the middle, we've got former Wigan midfielder Mohammed Diame and former Everton loanee, Manuel Fernandes. An improvement over Cattermole and Colback in a similar role? Tough to call. I'd put Diame around the same level as Cattermole, with our captain more prone to the odd spectacular game while Diame more consistent. Fernandes I recall being good for Everton, and in this situation he'd be the one who goes while Diame stayed at home, but is he better than Jack Colback? Again, I'd have to call things about even, with Fernandes possibly shading it. Sorry Jack.

Into the attacking midfield and attack, that foursome looks incredibly threatening. Hoilett obviously we won't be getting now he appears to have moved on to Borussia Monchengladbach, but he was linked for long periods. Moses and Johnson remain a possibility, so imagine them swapped in with Sessegnon in the Hoilett role - mouthwatering to say the least.

Fletcher in attack seems to be a bit of a given that he's going to eventually come to Sunderland, here's hoping it's sooner rather than later. While I think in our little fantasy match-up that Brown and O'Shea between them should be able to handle the Wolves frontman, I'd have doubts as to whether our holding midfield could contend with such talent as Johnson, Moses and Hoilett running wild, while they'd also keep Bardsley and Richardson occupied.

This is of course just one team which we could have, missing from the list are the likes of Matt Phillips, Ryan Bertrand, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Steven N'Zonzi who'd find themselves on the bench.

It would certainly be a good game, and a game of immense attacking flair I feel. I'm not going to sway the vote on which side I thin would win, but it does serve as an interesting exercise to see if people think those we're looking to bring in, possibly anyway, are actually any better than what we have already.

So in the interests of fun, which side do you feel has the upper hand? Vote and leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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