Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has named his side for tonight's first leg of the League Cup semi-final against Manchester United. Captain John O'Shea has returned from injury in time to partner fellow Manchester United old boy Wes Brown at the heart of the Sunderland defence, this is undoubtedly good news considering the slightly mixed bag of performances produced by stand-ins Valentin Roberge and Modibo Diakite in his (and Brown's) absence. With the return of our centre backs, Ki Sung-Yeung is able to return to his proper place in the heart of Sunderland's midfield where he is joined by Lee Cattermole and Seb Larsson.
Marcos Alonso, newly arrived on loan from Fiorentina, has gone straight into the first team after receiving his international clearance too late to be a part of the squad against Carlisle at the weekend. At right back, Phil Bardsley returns after he was rested at the weekend. On the wings, Poyet has opted for Emanuele Giaccherini and Fabio Borini with Adam Johnson dropping out despite an improved performance and excellent goal versus Carlisle. Up front despite some nice link up play with substitutes Watmore and Ba against Carlisle, Jozy Altidore drops to the bench to be replaced by Steven Fletcher.
Despite impressive cameos in the FA Cup win on Sunday, neither of the youngsters Duncan Watmore and El-Hadji Ba have made the squad for today's semi-final, with Gus Poyet opting for more tried and tested players considering the importance of the occasion.
Sunderland (4-3-3): Vito Mannone, Phil Bardsley, John O'Shea, Wes Brown, Marcos Alonso; Lee Cattermole, Seb Larsson, Ki Sung-Yeung; Emanuele Giaccherini, Steven Fletcher, Fabio Borini
Substitutes: Joel Dixon, Ondrej Celustka, Craig Gardner, Jack Colback, Adam Johnson, Ji Dong-won, Jozy Altidore.
Meanwhile David Moyes has named probably as strong a side as he is able to at the moment with Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Marouanne Fellaini all out injured. In defence captain Nemanja Vidic returns to partner Jonny Evans at the centre of defence, with the attack-minded full backs Rafael and Patrice Evra on either side. In midfield Tom Cleverley sits alongside Michael Carrick, whilst youngster Adnan Januzaj is trusted with a place on the wing. As well as Jonny Evans, former Sunderland loanee Danny Welbeck also returns to the Stadium of Light.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Rafael, Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley; Antonio Valencia, Ryan Giggs, Adnan Januzaj; Danny Welbeck
Substitutes: Anders Lindergaard, Chris Smalling, Javier Hernandez, Darren Fletcher, Shinji Kagawa, Alexander Büttner, Wilfred Zaha.