GK: Lee Burge
Phil Parkinson does have a decision to make as to who goes in the goals this weekend.
Does he give Jon McLaughlin a vote of confidence after his Gillingham gaffe, or does he show Lee Burge that he is his number one by starting him against his former club?
It’s a tough one to judge, but if you’re going on form, Lee Burge can’t really be blamed for the recent defeats. As such, he’s the most likely to start at the Stadium of Light today.
RB: O’Nien CB: Willis CB: Lynch LB: Hume
Both Jordan Willis and Joel Lynch missed Tuesday’s night defeat with injury, but Parky has already confirmed both should be fit to start this weekend’s game.
There’s an argument for the inclusion of youngster Brandon Taylor after a solid midweek performance, but we’d be very surprised if it’s not Willis and Lynch at the back.
In the full-back positions, Luke O’Nien will once again be forced to plug a gap with Conor McLaughlin sitting this one out through suspension. Denver Hume is likely to continue at left-back ahead of summer signing Laurens De Bock, who has failed to impress since returning from injury.
CM: Power CM: Dobson
Phil Parkinson seems to favour Max Power and George Dobson as his central midfield pair, and he is likely to continue with the duo for this afternoon’s crunch clash.
Dobson has been a bright spark in a dark few weeks and will come back in for Grant Leadbitter having missed the midweek defeat at Priestfield with injury.
Power, on the other hand, has been bang off form but is unlikely to be dislodged by either Leadbitter or Dylan McGeouch, with the latter completely out of favour. However, Power needs to give an improved performance and show what we all know he’s capable of.
RM: Watmore CM: Maguire LM: McGeady
Whilst both Chris Maguire and Aiden McGeady continue to chronically underperform, the injuries to Lynden Gooch and Elliott Embleton coupled with the need for O’Nien to cover right-back this weekend means Parky is left with little choice but to start the pair.
Duncan Watmore is a shoe-in on the right hand side, with the manager talking him up since his arrival, and whilst not as out of form as the aforementioned two, he will be looking for an improved performance from the flame haired winger after a quiet few weeks from him.
Youngster Lee Connelly will be hoping for a place on the bench.
ST: Will Grigg
With Charlie Wyke still a few weeks away from full fitness and Marc McNulty nursing a hamstring problem, Sunderland have no option but to start with the misfiring Will Grigg up front.
Last year’s big January signing is struggling big time, scoring only one league goal this season, with manager Phil Parkinson allegedly saying Grigg was ‘carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders’ at a fan talk-in this week.
Perhaps Grigg needs taking out of the firing line as his confidence seems to be sapping with every passing week, but without any other options he’ll start this afternoon.