clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

STARTING XI: Is this Sunderland side that Coleman will select for today’s HUGE game with Derby?

New, comments

We’ve got a potentially season-defining game tonight with Derby County and if we’re going to take the three points we need, Chris Coleman needs to nail his team selection. Is this the starting XI he’ll put out this evening?

Getty Images

Goalkeeper: Camp

Lee Camp came in to replace the suspended Jason Steele against Preston. The decision Chris Coleman has to make is whether to stick with the on-loan goalkeeper or return the current owner of the number one shirt to the side.

Regular readers of this column know my thoughts - Max Stryjek every time - but I’m not the manager, so I thoroughly expect Camp to start at Derby.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Defenders: Matthews, Kone, O’Shea, Wilson, Oviedo

There will be a forced change in defence given the fact Jake Clarke-Salter received his marching orders once more against Preston. Two red cards in two games in not the greatest achievement of the youngster’s footballing career to date - but given his recent showing for England U21s, it is a shame we can’t see that side of the player in a Sunderland shirt.

However, Marc Wilson returned to training prior to the Preston game and it is hoped, with a few weeks now under his belt, he’ll be ready for a return to action. He has absent for a long time, and a bit more experience in the back-three may not be a bad thing.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Midfielders: Cattermole, Ejaria, Honeyman

The big question in regards to the team selection tonight surrounds who will play in our midfield.

For me, Chris Coleman has to find the right balance and get the best out of players like Aiden McGeady if we are to stand any chance of surviving in this league.

To date McGeady hasn’t really fired on any cylinder, let alone all of them. Under Coleman’s leadership he’s been a shadow of the player who started the season so well under Simon Grayson but, with six goals and four assists to his name, he is theoretically still a key player for us.

Ovie Ejaria probably hasn’t let anyone down during his loan spell, but he hasn’t sparked anything either. George Honeyman works hard but clearly has a level, technically, and Lee Cattermole... well, is Lee Cattermole.

Coleman could change the midfield that lined up against Preston by introducing Paddy McNair or perhaps turn to Kazenga LuaLua. If anyone on Sunderland’s books is likely to offer what we’ve been missing from Aiden McGeady, it could be LuaLua.

Will Coleman change a workmanlike midfield to accommodate the flair of McGeady or LuaLua? Perhaps one will be asked to support a lone striker formation, but it is more likely the creative sparks will have to settle for places on Coleman’s bench.

Getty Images

Attackers: Fletcher & Maja

Ashley Fletcher was taken out of the firing line last time against Preston but it is likely he will return against Derby.

With the news that Joel Asoro will miss the game due to the head injury sustained on international duty, Coleman could look to deploy Kazenga LuaLua in a similarly advanced role. But comments recently suggest he is more likely to be used as an impact sub.

Given that the former Brighton man has been plagued with niggling injuries since signing for the club, Coleman seems reluctant to tempt fate by asking too much of him.

It's likely that Ashley Fletcher and Josh Maja will be asked to lead the line.

Criticism accompanied Maja’s return to the side, but he’s a young lad with great potential and it is important that our academy products are developed with one eye on the future.

Coleman spoke earlier of the desire to retain Asoro and Maja next season, come what may, so I am anticipating Maja to retain his place on Friday.

The absence of Asoro and the easing in of LuaLua will probably offer Fletcher another chance to impress. Like Sunderland, time is running out if he is to make an impact, but we have to hope things turn for us all against Derby.