Sunderland head for Portman Road tonight to face an Ipswich side buoyed by a decent showing at Leeds on Saturday, with new lads Callum McManaman and Jonny Williams still doubtful for the clash.
Winger McManaman missed Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Cardiff with a groin problem and Williams was struck down by a bug in the run up to the game.
As at yesterday evening, the former was still receiving treatment from the Black Cats medical staff and the latter had barely eaten since Thursday. A good night’s sleep may have done the pair a world of good but both are surely unlikely to play a part tonight.
With Simon Grayson’s Sunderland formations under scrutiny following some unfathomable system reboots in recent weeks, all eyes will be on the Black Cats line-up against the Tractor Boys tonight.
Fielding a trio of right-backs for the trip to Everton a little under a week ago followed by a quick abandonment of a three centre-half system against Cardiff, the Black Cats boss will surely not dare experiment with his side further when all are calling for Sunderland to get back to basics in a bid to get a few points on the board.
Grayson spoke about drilling his players to get the fundamentals right when he faced the media yesterday following another bout of silly errors robbing Sunderland of points on Saturday, and Mick McCarthy will have duly noted the inherent weaknesses in his former club ahead of this one.
It’s hard to disagree with Grayson’s apparent assessment that a back three is actually going to be a key formation for Sunderland this season but with key personnel to make it tick missing and a lack of time between matches to practice it, a return to the plan may have to wait until after the international break.
Grayson’s men have had little breathing room to do much other than post-match recovery work with the recent glut of fixtures and the injury situation hasn’t helped.
Sunderland will surely line up with a 4-5-1 combo this evening against a Mick McCarthy side which has tried it’s own back three system lately but tends to operate with a 4-4-2 at home.
Ipswich have decent enough front men in Waghorn, McGoldrick and Garner and resting up Lamine Kone after his latest brain fart-filled afternoon on Saturday may have crossed Grayson’s mind when plotting this one, though the Ivorian remains one of the first names on the team sheet.
Something like this then for tonight with the side largely picking itself based on those available.
With a bit of luck, Aiden McGeady will be ready to play from the start whilst Adam Matthews has surely proven himself as first choice right back for his work rate and versatility in recent games.
Lynden Gooch had a good second half against Cardiff and James Vaughan again worked his socks off. The defensive pairing in midfield - Cattermole and Ndong - really requires some revision but a serious lack of squad depth still has them as largely un-droppable.
The presence of Duncan Watmore on the bench would give the travelling Sunderland fans a lift with Grayson indicating he was to meet with the club’s medical staff yesterday afternoon for an update on the energetic front man’s progress on his return from nine months out.