Chris Coleman has spent much of this week talking up the prospects of Sunderland youngster Joel Asoro and with a “if they’re good enough, they’re old enough” mentality ahead of Saturday’s visit from Reading, will the 18-year-old be unleashed on Jaap Stam’s side?
It feels like Asoro has a shot and with Callum McManaman failing to find much in the way of an end product in recent games, the Swedish U21 international could be rewarded for the impact he made against Burton with a start tomorrow.
Sunderland prepare for the game with few fresh concerns from the squad which travelled to Staffordshire last weekend. Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong are still out as is Duncan Watmore of course.
Darron Gibson hasn’t trained much in recent days with the Lads working out on the astro-turf at the frozen Academy of Light. He looks set to make the bench again despite impressing at Burton.
Central defender Marc Wilson has been building his fitness all week after missing the last two league games though injury but Tyias Browning and John O’Shea are likely to continue in the middle of defence.
Josh Maja is likely to be handed a spot on the bench to offer Coleman attacking options, with James Vaughan suspended following his daft yellow card last week. Billy Jones is another week away from returning, so Adam Matthews is likely to continue at right-back.
Robbin Ruiter has been talking up his prospects of making a full rehabilitation from that Millwall horror show after Sunderland managed to keep a first clean sheet of the campaign a week ago. The Dutchman is certain to continue in goal ahead of Jason Steele.
It looks like Lee Cattermole’s best position is now sitting in front of the back four to break up opposition attacks, and Paddy McNair and George Honeyman will be expected to take the midfield play towards Reading.
It’s tricky to predict how Coleman will opt to line up his side against Reading, of course, as the new boss continues to suss out his options, but something like this looks as likely as anything.
Coleman is assured of a warm welcome in his first game at the Stadium of Light, as is returning goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
Reading comfortably beat Barnsley in mid-week and were solid enough in defence. Dutch defensive midfielder Joey van den Berg offered some robust protection to those behind him and Asoro could prove key in breaking down the Royals rearguard in an otherwise pace-less Sunderland side.
Winger Mo Barrow has been providing the spark in attack for Stam’s men and Bryan Oviedo will need some effective cover from his team mates to prevent the tricky winger causing the Black Cats problems down that flank.