A trip to table-toppers Wolves is difficult enough but with several senior players set to miss the trip to the West Midlands, Chris Coleman faces his most difficult team selection since joining Sunderland.
With left back Bryan Oviedo and midfielder Paddy McNair joining Billy Jones, Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong on the sidelines, Joel Asoro is also doubtful and Callum McManaman is suspended.
Wolves have an abundance of talent which can be deployed to hurt the vulnerable Black Cats, and surely the key decision on how to stop them will be whether to line up with three centre backs or deploy a deep holding midfielder in front of a back four.
So, 5-3-2 or 4-1-4-1? You decide...
A) Three centre-backs
Chris Coleman mastered the art of three centre backs whilst manager of Wales but Sunderland’s defensive options are a different beast to the international trio of Williams, Chester and Davies he had at his disposal.
Simon Grayson’s efforts to utilise such a system didn’t work out, despite signing the personnel to make it work, but Coleman may have greater success. Sunderland will need to keep it tight centrally in order to keep a lid on Wolverhampton’s attacking impetus.
Vaughan and Grabban have barely played together but the former should provide an outlet for a Black Cats starting eleven bound to be under pressure for long periods, and the latter simply represents Sunderland’s best chance of scoring.
B) A back four with a sitting midfielder
Admittedly Coleman’s options in central midfield are pretty rank with the absence of McNair and Ndong.
Darron Gibson was sat in front of the back four for the trip to Aston Villa, but he was perhaps effective enough taking the game higher up the field at Burton to be given another shot at operating as a proper central midfielder.
Lee Cattermole appears to neither possess the legs or the vision anymore to be in the cut-and-thrust of the midfield, and may be best served taking a step back in this one to protect the pair of central defenders behind him.
Joel Asoro is an injury doubt after hurting himself against Reading, but has had a couple of days training under his belt this week and tomorrow’s game represents his best opportunity of forcing a way into the starting eleven, with Callum McManaman suspended and Duncan Watmore out for the season.
What system would you plump for? Vote in the poll below.
Three centre backs (Team A: 5-3-2) or a Sitting midfielder (Team B: 4-1-4-1)?
This poll is closed