clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Changes Expected For Sunderland - Who Will Play?

New, comments

Sam Allardyce is expected to select a much-changed Sunderland side this weekend at Watford and has hinted that he may well feature a number of players from our youth sides in order to afford them the opportunity to prove themselves. On top of that, we should see a number of senior fringe players play their part. With that in mind, @GRokerReport looks at who he expects will feature in Sunderland's side at Vicarage Road.

Richard Sellers/Getty Images

Seb Larsson

Due to the form of the three starting midfielders since the end of January, Seb Larsson has struggled to get into Sam Allardyce's starting eleven much and I kind of feel sorry for him - he's just been unlucky with timing and injuries.

That said, Seb has certainly played his part in the final throws of the season and his experience and leadership when defending a lead has been huge, particularly in our last two home games. Larsson is a dependable hand but, with Larsson turning thirty-one next month, it's perhaps time he moved on and went to a club where he will get more game time.

That said, he should - and most likely will - start at the weekend. If nothing else I hope he puts himself in the shop window and impresses another manager into taking a chance on him when the summer transfer window re-opens.

Thomas Robson

Sunday's game presents a huge opportunity for left full-back Thomas Robson, who has been highly spoke of for a number of years without being given a chance to run in the first team.

Though Robson is slight, he's very quick and offensively he's a threat from wide areas, something which is essential to be a full-back in the modern era.

Robson was given a new, two-year contract in January by Sam Allardyce and with Patrick Van Aanholt the only senior left back at the club, Robson's progress as a first team player is very interesting. If he plays well against Watford, you have to imagine that Sam Allardyce will think twice about bringing in someone in the summer that can play the same position. Robson's time is now, effectively.

He was linked with a loan away to Wigan Athletic in January but for whatever reason, it didn't happen, which is a shame as the Latics went on to win the League One title this season, experience that may well have stood Robson in good stead going forward as a senior player at Sunderland.

Patrick Van Aanholt has played just about every game this season at left back, so why not give young Tommy a go? The only way we'll know if he's good enough is if we throw him head first into Premier League football.

Wes Brown & John O'Shea

Though big Wes doesn't play much these days he's been a fine servant to the club and, with his contract expiring this summer, Sunday is his last game for Sunderland, and could quite be the last game in the storied career of a former England international, Premier League winner and Champions League winner. Hopefully he gets the send off he deserves in what could be his final ever game of professional football.

Due to the form of Younes Kaboul and Lamine Kone, John O'Shea hasn't started much recently and you'd imagine that Sam will opt to rest the two regular central defenders and allow the Republic of Ireland captain to pair up with his old dance partner Brown for one last time.

Josh Maja

Maja may well not be a name you are familiar with, but he's largely expected to make the bench for Sunday' game as a reward for his fine form for our under 18s side. Maja - signed after he was released by Manchester City, is a powerful and tricky forward and I had the chance to watch him play against Manchester United last year, where he was comfortably the best player on the pitch.

In fact, an assist he made for Dan Pybus in that game I was at went viral - check it out below.

George Honeyman

Honeyman is a player that I enjoy watching immensely. The U21s league is pretty awful by design, but Honeyman stands out at that level and has benefited from the amount of time you get on the ball when playing against other U21s sides.

Like Robson he's physically quite small, but his technical ability is without question. Though best operating as a number ten, he'll play off the left at the weekend should he play a part, coming inside and providing chances for whoever is playing centre forward.

As I said with Robson, Honeyman's time is now. He's been in the U21s side for a number of years now and you feel that if he's going to make any sort of impact as a senior player at Sunderland it has to be in this game, and then perhaps in pre-season where Sam Allardyce can further assess if he feels Honeyman can be an asset to his squad. Though neither team on Sunday has anything to play for in terms of league position, the likes of Honeyman have an opportunity to impress their manager to the point that he works them into his plans for next season. Good luck, George.

Rees Greenwood

Rees Greenwood has burst onto the scene at U21s level this season and, much like Duncan Watmore last year, he has been by far Sunderland's best player in the Barclays U21s Premier League.

Greenwood is quick, good on the ball, scores goals, whips crosses into dangerous areas and is generally just a pain in the arse. I'd start him on the bench at the weekend and give him the final half an hour to show what he can do against tired legs - he's genuinely our most promising youth talent that has yet to debut for our first team. Keep your eyes peeled.

Jordan Pickford

Pickford has firmly established himself as a quality senior player this year, enjoying a fine spell on loan at Preston in 2015 before returning this January and putting in two man of the match performances in games against Arsenal and Spurs.

Though Sam Allardyce opted to go with Vito Mannone once Costel Pantillimon left for Watford, Pickford is clearly going to be our number one in the coming years and with nothing to lose, he's surely going to start at the weekend.

Duncan Watmore

Much like Seb Larsson, Watmore hasn't started games since returning from an ankle injury but he has certainly played his part in our survival, particularly when we won away at Norwich last month.

Watmore's an absolute shoe-in to start. He's no longer a youth player, he's very much a first teamer, and has earned his place on the pitch.

What would your side be on Sunday? Would you make changes, or would you stick with the side that got us to safety? Leave your comments below this article.