Goalkeeper: Lee Camp
Lee Camp continues to prove that the choice of who plays in goal is like being asked to get some bread from the supermarket this week - the shelves are pretty bare and you take anything you can find! The alarming rate at which he has conceded means our side have to find three goals just to gain a point. And yet he’ll play again today... because the alternative is Jason Steele.
It’s fair to say our goalkeeping situation will prove one of the biggest contributing factors should we end up in League One. It’s such a shame that Max Stryjek isn’t getting a chance.
Defenders: Matthews, Kone, O’Shea, Browning, Oviedo
I can’t see Chris Coleman reverting to a back four anytime soon, so it’s fair to say that the defence picks itself.
With Marc Wilson still injured, it falls to the ageing John O’Shea to continue to roll his sleeves up and lead the side. It may have been assumed that O’Shea would be cover for the defence this season, or be called upon when injuries hit. Yet such is our need for bodies, the aging Republic international has played 90 minutes in every game, bar Birmingham away, since leading the side out at Preston back in September.
Alongside him, the returning Lamine Kone has shown a little more than earlier in the season and will undoubtedly be joined by Tyias Browning. The Everton loanee will replace the Chelsea loanee, Jake Clarke-Salter, who starts a three-game suspension.
Thankfully Bryan Oviedo’s part in the Traoré saga last weekend has not been reviewed. It would have been typically Sunderland had Tony Pulis’ claim - that a mysterious finger appeared from Oviedo’s direction and ended up in Traoré’s eye - been upheld and retrospective punishment been applied. Thankfully, the distinct lack of evidence, whilst enough to get Traoré off, has not affected the Costa Rican’s selection today.
On the right hand side, the returning Adam Matthews performed well against Boro and should keep his place. In fact, his is the only defensive position that we could seriously consider as warranting a decision. Billy Jones will no doubt be the sole defensive substitute today.
Midfielders: Cattermole, Robson, Honeyman, McManaman
The big loss from last weekend will be Paddy McNair. Another two or three weeks on the treatment table await the Irishman - his physical presence and ability to play from box-to-box will be greatly missed against Millwall.
Chris Coleman said Ovie Ejaria trained midweek and, despite feeling it a little bit, got through the session. His return would soften the blow of losing McNair, but whether he will be risked from the start in what will be a competitive midfield battle remains to be seen.
Jonny Williams replaced McNair last week and could do so again. The key issue will be the physical nature of the Millwall midfield and whether Williams is ready for such a test, having only just recovered from his own injuries. Ethan Robson could offer our own physical presence in midfield, of course.
The fact we now have options is a nice dilemma to ponder and one I’m certain Coleman will have been considering this week. As Millwall tend to line up 4-4-2 and the midfield will be a key battle, perhaps Coleman will look to match the four across the middle.
Cattermole will undoubtedly retain his place as the only senior holding midfielder available. If we do go with a midfield four, I’d play Robson for his presence and physicality alongside Catts. Perhaps playing an energetic player like Honeyman in midfield will be required, with width from Aiden McGeady or last week’s last-gasp goalscorer Callum McManaman. Honeyman has linked well with Oviedo in the past and McManaman did well with Matthews in the second half last week, so I’ll opt for that combo.
Attacker: Ashley Fletcher
This is a big call, especially if we are left with a single striker.
Josh Maja has shown he works better within a pair, where he can use his technical ability to good effect. Playing the lone striker role simply hasn’t suited him when he’s been asked to perform that role.
Joel Asoro has become such a key player for us, it’s almost scary. He’s clearly talented, but for one so young to be so crucial is a concern. Last week he led the line during the second half but seemed to drift wide at times, leaving gaping holes in the middle. He’s only trained once this week after the knock he picked up, so maybe he’ll be protected this weekend.
Ashley Fletcher didn’t feature against his parent club and will be itching to return. He’ll also be keen to make amends for the chances he missed against Bolton, so maybe Coleman will turn to him today. Like Robson, his physical presence may be an asset against a strong Millwall side.