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TEN CHANGES! Is this Sunderland’s starting XI for tonight’s EFL Trophy game against Grimsby?

With a raft of fringe players expected to be given a chance, will Jack Ross alter almost his entire starting eleven? We’re predicting TEN changes - including the return of a forward who will be hoping that his injury problems and finally behind him.

Sunderland v Oxford United - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

GK: Lee Burge

With many fans calling for the former Coventry City number one to get a proper chance in the first team, it’s a no brainer to start him in tonight’s game.

Burge cannot lose - with our main focus being on the league there’s not a great deal of importance being placed on tonight’s Leasing Trophy match, but if he does perform well it strengthens his claims to start in our game at Wycombe Wanderers in just under two weeks.

The former Coventry City #1 will see it as another chance to remind Jack Ross he’s ready to wear the gloves on a more regular basis, and rightly so - he’s never let us down before.

Sheffield United v Sunderland AFC - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

RB: O’Nien CB: Ozturk CB: Taylor LB: Hume

Jack Ross has continuously stressed the importance of clean sheets, so will most likely go with an experienced back four in the hope they perform well and place pressure on the likes of Jordan Willis and Joel Lynch.

Alim Ozturk has been in out of the side, so Ross will give him a chance to get minutes into his legs and prove they should be starting more often. Brandon Taylor wasn’t used by the U23s last night, which could point to the fact that he’s in line for a start this evening.

At right back, Luke O’Nien is the only option available in truth, with both Conor McLaughlin and Bali Mumba away on international duty. On the left-hand side, Denver Hume is likely to be handed a chance to oust Laurens De Bock following his horror show at Lincoln City.

Bolton Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

CM: Leadbitter CM: Dobson

Max Power and Dylan McGeouch have offered a real mixed bag of performances over the last few weeks. Power was superb in the wins over MK Dons and Sheffield United, but was very poor at Sincil Bank. The same could be levelled at Dylan McGeouch, so we are likely to see summer signing George Dobson line up alongside skipper Grant Leadbitter.

Dobson has struggled to get a run of games since joining from Walsall so will see tonight’s game to show Ross that he can consistently perform well in the engine room.

As for Leadbitter, he’s not been seen for a number of weeks and Ross will surely see it as time to allow the skipper to impress after losing his place.

Sunderland v Oxford United - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

RM: Watmore LM: Kimpioka

As alluded to by Jack Ross yesterday, Duncan Watmore is expected to make his first appearance since the opening day draw against Oxford United and will likely start on the right-hand side of an advanced three.

On the left, forgotten man Benji Kimpioka should be given a chance to feature after not appearing at all during our league season, despite featuring heavily in pre-season.

Sunderland v Heerenveen Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Iam Burn/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

ST Grigg ST: McNulty

Will Grigg needs goals desperately, so playing him this evening is an absolute no brainer for Jack Ross. It’s getting to the point of no return with Grigg, with many fans already conceding his signing has been a flop - however, a couple of goals and a performance to go with it, whilst the pressure is off, could give him a reprieve and a final shot at getting it right at the Stadium of Light.

Marc McNulty has shown he can fill in as a number ten, and is likely going to get the nod to start tonight due to his stop-start season that has been hampered by the occasional niggle.

Sunderland v MK Dons - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Steven Hadlow/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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