Goalkeeper: Lee Camp
Lee Camp, arguably, had his best game in a Sunderland shirt against his former side on Friday. It wasn’t without moments, though, and the veteran keeper needs to be on his game today if we are to secure another victory. Confidence is key for any player, but when you’re the last line of defence it’s critical. Hopefully Camp will be buzzing after Friday and itching to go one better, and claim his first clean sheet in a Sunderland jersey.
Defenders: Donald Love, Lamine Kone, John O’Shea, Bryan Oviedo
There I was, thinking Coleman would never opt for a back four at Derby, especially with Marc Wilson available, but he did. What’s more, with an ‘orthodox’ defence, we gained three points. Same again today please, gaffer!
Donald Love was a huge surprise. But in a season where we’ve struggled, Donald Love’s appearance record is strangely impressive. He’s another who arguably had his best game in a Sunderland shirt when we battered the Rams and will be hoping to retain his place.
But Adam Matthews was given time to recover from international duties and will be equally desperate to start, so Coleman has to make a tough choice.
John O’Shea, in his 250th game for the Lads, not only played well but got on the scoresheet. For one of those to happen is amazing; both is a miracle. Can his legs get him through again today? Marc Wilson is available, but I suspect the captain will be asked to go once more.
Alongside these two, Kone and Oviedo impressed on Friday and the hope is, without the TV cameras, Kone will continue in that form. Oviedo, meanwhile, has quietly maintained his consistency and is a shoe-in at left-back.
Midfielders: Lee Cattermole, Paddy McNair, George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch, Aiden McGeady
Pre-Derby, we spoke of how Chris Coleman had to find the right balance and get the best out of players like Aiden McGeady if we were to stand any chance of surviving in this league. At Derby, McGeady was outstanding. He always looked capable of creating something whenever he was on the ball, and we will need that kind of performance again today.
In fact, the whole midfield played well. Cattermole looked a steady influence alongside the impressive Paddy McNair. George Honeyman was his industrious self and Lynden Gooch ran his socks off. These five helped shield a defence by pressing high, whilst supporting a striker who was no longer isolated. This change in formation bore fruit at Derby and will need to produce again today.
These young players are the future of this club, regardless of what division we find ourselves in next season, so I am pleased that Coleman is trusting the likes of Honeyman, Gooch, McNair and Love by giving them the chance to prove themselves. There will be some options for tired legs, either in personnel or tactics, but surely we can’t change a winning formula today?
Attacker: Ashley Fletcher
Ashley Fletcher has had his fair share of trials at the club, but his goal on Friday was a bit special. Picking up a loose ball, he held off three defenders to place an excellent drive past the keeper. Granted, he could, and perhaps should, have added to his goal, but it will have given the young lad confidence to go again today.
The support he had from the willing runs of Lynden Gooch and the creativity of Aiden McGeady had a huge effect and the midfield will need to support the striker again today by pressing the Wednesday defence. We see mistakes happening in this league all the time so it was good that our forwards were in positions to take advantage against Derby.
Now, at home and hopefully in front of a hopeful crowd, Fletcher needs to produce once more. If we are to secure back-to-back victories, we probably need the youngster to score in successive games himself.