“Last thing we need” - Sunderland and Everton won’t be the only two clubs pondering that sentiment ahead of the Carabao Cup third round this week.
Whilst the Black Cats are fourth from bottom in the Championship, the Toffees aren’t faring much better a league above with just one win from their opening five Premier League games.
With just one fit senior striker, Sunderland boss Simon Grayson will surely shuffle his pack for tomorrow’s trip to Goodison - the problem being, his options are limited.
James Vaughan finally opened his Wearside account at the weekend with a goal at Hull, but such is the need for the former Everton forward to play in the league this weekend, dropping him to the bench to offer his spot to an understudy is almost certain.
Joel Asoro and Lynden Gooch perhaps have the best claim at present to lead the Sunderland line tomorrow night. The pair did so in the last round at Carlisle with some success, though Premier League opponents - albeit rotated ones - are a different proposition.
If Gooch and Asoro play, it makes sense to pair them up close together at the Black Cats front end and pack a midfield in behind them.
Grayson suggested in this afternoon’s press conference that his side will contain “a couple of changes” from the one which played out a goal-apiece draw with Hull last Saturday.
Loanees Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway are ruled out of facing the club which holds their registration and will play no part in the tie, but a return to Goodison must have Darron Gibson chomping at the bit to feature.
The January signing from Everton has managed just 18 minutes in the league this season but played ninety in each of the previous rounds of the Carabao Cup. Gibson is surely set for a start in the Sunderland midfield back at Goodison tomorrow after turning out nearly 70 times for the Toffees in a six season stint.
Jason Steele is likely to return between the sticks, as the battle to be Sunderland’s number one continues to take a little time to play out, while Jack Rodwell will probably be another ex-Toffee making a return to the Merseyside stage.
Something like this then - a 3-5-1-1 or 5-3-1-1 depending on your preference and whether Grayson’s men are attacking or defending, in a shape which may soon be christened Sunderland’s ‘cup formation’.
Everton are in a rancid run of form with four defeats on the bounce and no win in six from assorted Premier League fixtures and Europa League ties but the now age-old adage that Sunderland are the team to play when in need of a lift applies - as ever - to this one.
Under-pressure opposition gaffer, Ronald Koeman, is likely billing the game as a must-win but will hand a few fringe players their chance to shine. Everton will probably line up in a tried and tested 4-3-3 with a bit of pace at the business end.