GK: Lee Burge
Phil Parkinson sprung a surprise on Saturday by dropping the only Sunderland player he has worked with before in Jon McLaughlin, but his replacement Lee Burge produced a good performance and showed the new boss that he made the right decision.
It wouldn’t make any sense to drop him after Saturday considering he was one of the only players to come out of the game with credit, so we expect Burge to make his first league start at the Stadium of Light this evening.
RB: McLaughlin CB: Willis CB: Lynch LB: Hume
Could tonight be the night we get our first clean sheet? Either way, by keeping with the same back four on a more consistent basis we should surely start to see an improvement from our leaky defence.
Conor McLaughlin has struggled immensely since his move in the summer, but with his only challenger Luke O’Nien starting further up the pitch he will likely keep his place.
On the left hand side, Laurens De Bock may return from the knock that kept him out at Wycombe, but Denver Hume should be the preferred option in a game that will hopefully see us go for it from the off.
The two centre backs almost pick themselves. Joel Lynch has been strong and composed since coming into the side last month and Jordan Willis has arguably been our best summer purchase, so splitting them up seems an unlikely move.
CM: Power CM: Dobson
We saw another switch in the midfield at Adams Park, with Grant Leadbitter partnering Max Power, however it’s likely Phil Parkinson will change things, such was the level of poor performance.
George Dobson is the most energetic midfielder at the club and, despite not setting the world on fire, offers something completely different - the boss must be looking to add a new dynamic to a position that lacks enthusiasm after Saturday’s shambolic performance.
Alongside him Max Power may well be afforded another chance to impress in a game he should be looking to control. Saturday’s performance was Power at his worst, but hopefully Parkinson throws down the gauntlet to him and the former Tranmere Rovers midfielder dominates the game in the way we’ve seen him do before.
RM: Gooch CM: O’Nien LM: Maguire
One of the big surprises when Phil Parkinson picked his first-ever Sunderland starting eleven was to drop virtual ever-present Lynden Gooch from the side. The American started the season in good form but has tailed off in recent weeks, so perhaps the manager will be hoping Saturday’s omission will spark a reaction from him, starting with a good display tonight.
The other option on the right would be Duncan Watmore, but with his well documented fitness issues I’m not sure it would be wise to start him in two games in four days.
On the left hand side, Aiden McGeady will be sitting this one out after picking up his fifth booking of the season, so Chris Maguire is the obvious choice to come into the side.
The number ten role will likely be filled by Luke O’Nien, who will hoping for an improvement after his uncharacteristically anonymous showing against his old team at the weekend.
CF: Will Grigg
Phil Parkinson was dealt the first big blow of his Sunderland tenure with the confirmation that Charlie Wyke had damaged his ankle ligaments against Wycombe Wanderers. However, it does open the door for Will Grigg to impress the new boss and kickstart his career on Wearside.
Marc McNulty is fully fit and could be the alternative option, but based on the fact Parkinson opted for Grigg as the half time replacement for Wyke you’d expect he’ll start the former Wigan Athletic striker in attack tonight.