Jack Rodwell, Donald Love and Brendan Galloway have travelled as part of the Sunderland U21s squad that will play this evening against Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat stadium.
The game - which kicks off at 7.30pm - is Sunderland’s second Checkatrade Trophy fixture this season, with Robbie Stockdale’s side looking to avenge their 3-1 away loss at Scunthorpe United earlier in the season.
The first team trio of Rodwell, Galloway and Love are all short of match practice and tonight’s cup tie represents a solid opportunity for all three men to get some much needed minutes under their belts.
Everton loanee Galloway was a first choice for Simon Grayson upon the start of the season, but a combination of horrendous form, injury and the return of Bryan Oviedo has seen the full back lose his place in the side. With the first team manager watching on, Galloway will be looking to show just why he was brought to the club in the first place with a strong outing tonight in South Yorkshire.
And the same goes for Jack Rodwell, who has found himself well down the pecking order this season. Though he’s started games, the former Manchester City midfielder has suffered with injuries and with spaces in the centre of the park for Sunderland extremely limited he’s played nowhere near the amount of football that he’d have liked since we dropped into the second tier from the Premier League.
Donald Love, however, appears to have taken up the position previously occupied by the resurgent Adam Matthews as Sunderland’s unwanted third right back, and he’ll play this evening - though whether he’ll play down the right hand side of Sunderland’s defence or in the centre of the park alongside Rodwell is anyone’s guess.
Likely joining the trio will be others that are on the fringes of the first team, such as Mika, Ethan Robson and Tom Beadling. Joel Asoro (Sweden U21s), Michael Woud (New Zealand Senior side), Sam Brotherton (New Zealand Senior side) and Elliot Embleton (England U19s) are not expected to feature, however, as the four men are away on international duty with their respective countries.
For those in the area wishing to pop along to support the lads, tickets (priced at £10 for adults, £5 for over 60s and under-22s and just £1 for under-18s) are available on the door.