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“Is this a realistic survival plan?” & FOUR key questions ahead of Sunderland’s trip to Reading

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Would the fight be back on if we win, will the youngsters continue to lead the way, will we see Maja and/or Asoro at some point, Wilson or Clarke-Salter - who replaces O’Shea, and most importantly - WILL WE BE UP FOR IT?

Haway the Lads!
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Would the fight be back on if we win?

Consider this scenario...

Sunderland win at Reading and go to 36 points. Barnsley and Bolton draw - Bolton go on 40. Sunderland beat Burton, and Bolton lose to Wolves. One point gap. Barnsley lose or draw at Leeds. THEN Sunderland throw in a coupon buster and win at Fulham and Burton beat Bolton.

*Sits back with coffee and waits for the world to implode*

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Will the youngsters continue to lead the way?

Whatever anyone thinks of them individually, it’d be hard for any supporter who has watched the last four games to deny that Donald Love, George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch has played quite well and have certainly set the tone with their work-rate.

Honeyman in particular has received his fair share of stick this season but with seven goals to his name he’s shown he’s more than capable and is a genuine goal threat, whilst Gooch works tirelessly down the right hand side in tandem with Donald Love, who appears to be steadily improving whilst his game time increases.

Hopefully tomorrow we see more of the same, and as a result of their enthusiasm the rest of the team take note and give it their best effort for ninety minutes too.

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Will we see Maja and/or Asoro at some point?

Does anyone else not think that Joel Asoro and Josh Maja have been conspicuous by their absence since chatter surfaced about the pair being offered new contracts a couple of week’s back?

I’m not suggesting that the Chris Coleman is holding off on using them for that reason, but it does all seem a bit odd. The manager was asked yesterday about the pair and mentioned that they’d been offered new deals and that the ball was firmly in their court, so what’s happening?

In the case of Asoro I certainly understand why he might hold out for now to see if there’s interest from clubs further up the chain - and I do believe that there will be - but in the case of Maja I’m not sure what he’s waiting for.

It’s not as though he’s going to get a better offer elsewhere, surely? He’s done absolutely nothing of note bar score against Fulham and you’d think that the opportunity to become an integral part of a League One squad next season is a good proving ground for someone who is so young and inexperienced.

I’ve no idea what is going on really and it’s all just speculation, but it’d be nice to see them feature at some point. Particularly Asoro, who was so good before the international break.

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Will we go for it?

The last four performances would certainly suggest that the Lads are up for it at the minute but irritating errors on set pieces keep costing us and it’s frustrating knowing that had we concentrated for ninety minutes against Leeds and Norwich we’d have been four points better off.

If we don’t win tomorrow then the impossible-looking task of surviving relegation will most definitely be over, and coming away with anything other than three points just isn’t acceptable.

I was impressed with the way we attacked on Tuesday night and down at Elland Road, and I’d like to think that we’ll approach this game in the same way. Unfortunately for us, though, Reading aren’t going to play as open as other teams have against us recently and since Paul Clement took over as manager they’ve firmly adopted his defence-first approach.

We need to make the most of what appears to be our last opportunity, as with a poor or limp performance we could most definitely rubber-stamp our relegation as a result.

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Wilson or Clarke-Salter - who replaces O’Shea?

It’s like choosing between which foot you want to have jammed under the wheel of a moving car but regardless, these are the options that we have and Chris Coleman has to choose one of them.

I’m going to guess that he’ll probably go with Wilson for his experience, and whilst that’d probably be my choice too I do worry that he’s been injured so much this season that he’s just not ready to be playing from the start of games.

He was decent at left back down at Derby but then at centre half against Sheffield Wednesday he got tortured. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares tomorrow when up against tricksters like Mo Barrow and Sone Aluko.

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