Goalkeeper: Lee Camp
Chris Coleman has said we need to win five from five - a tall order for any side in this division, but for one who has only won six times all season that seems nigh on impossible. The Sunderland manager has pointed to the last three games as a benchmark, where four points were gained and performances were improved.
The suggestion was made that we deserved more, but the background is that Coleman has named a largely unchanged side during that time. Forced changes have been the only reason for changing the personnel, so we must presume that on-loan ‘keeper Lee Camp will remain between the sticks until our fate is confirmed.
Defenders: Love, Kone, O’Shea, Oviedo
Lamine Kone returned back to the fold against Leeds and his presence in our side helped the defence to tighten up. Alongside John O’Shea, Kone has been part of a back four that has performed far better since we changed back to a more traditional formation.
Come the end of the season, Kone will be one of those players who a) wants to leave and b) we need to sell, regardless of which division we find ourselves in. Hopefully someone will be tracking his performances and readying a bid, albeit a cut-price one.
Coleman sprang a slight surprise on Saturday by selecting Marc Wilson at left back, but with the Irishman ruled out through injury we’ll more than likely see the return of Bryan Oviedo to the side, following his own recovery from a slight knock which kept him out at the weekend.
On the right hand side we can expect Donald Love to retain his place, particularly since his recent performances have been admirable and he played an important part in Paddy McNair’s goal down at Leeds. Love is benefiting from a run in the side and may be one of those players we come to rely upon next season.
Midfielders: Cattermole, Ejaria, Honeyman, Gooch, McGeady
If we can manage a win tonight it guarantees that we’ll stay alive just a little bit longer so the Sunderland manager will, of course, be wishing to keep our slender hopes of survival alive.
His best chance of achieving a victory will undoubtedly come from selecting a balanced midfield again, though the absence of Paddy McNair makes the task all the more difficult.
The midfield probably picks itself. Alongside the more defensive-minded Lee Cattermole will likely be Ovie Ejaria to provide the legs, whilst energy and creativity will come courtesy of Aiden McGeady, Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman. It is hoped these three will provide support for the single striker and look to create openings, whilst forcing mistakes from the Norwich defence.
Other options are available in the form of Ethan Robson, Callum McManaman and Kazenga LuaLua, but in all honesty I can’t see Coleman making unforced changes when our recent performances, particularly in midfield, have been pleasing.
Attacker: Ashley Fletcher
I was surprised when Fletcher got the nod over Joel Asoro at Leeds, but if the Swede’s availability wasn’t enough to prompt Chris Coleman into changing the dynamism of his attack we can only assume that Fletcher will see out the season leading the line too.
The on-loan former Middlesbrough striker has had just a handful of decent games during his underwhelming spell on Wearside and this hasn’t really helped our cause.
That said, he was good down at Derby and if it wasn’t for the post he’d have scored in each of the last two games. His performances seem to be improving and I think we’ll need to see more of the same from him if we’re going to stand a chance of taking anything from tonight’s fixture.