GK: Lee Burge
Probably our best player on Saturday, summer signing Lee Burge has proven he is worthy of the number one spot.
He made a fabulous save to deny Liam Walsh early in the afternoon and continued to keep his former side at bay, when they should have perhaps added to their lead. He looks like he’s got no ill effects from his thigh strain that kept him out for a few weeks, and will continue in the nets tonight.
RB: McLaughlin, CB: Willis, CB: Lynch, LB: Hume
There may be a forced change at the back for Phil Parkinson tonight, with the consistent Jordan Willis going off in the game at the weekend, but he is expected to be fit for this evening barring any last minute hitches.
Tom Flanagan replaced him on Saturday, with Parkinson confirming he preferred the Northern Ireland defender’s “mobility” over the strength of Alim Ozturk, but Willis will be given every chance to prove his fitness.
Conor McLaughlin returns from suspension and will be restored to right-back to allow Luke O’Nien to revert to his favoured midfield role, with Denver Hume continuing on the left-hand side.
CM: Power, CM: Leadbitter
George Dobson misses out through suspension tonight so captain Grant Leadbitter will start his second League One match in a row for the first time since the new manager took charge.
Leadbitter got the assist for the last minute equaliser on Saturday but will be expecting a better performance from himself as he looked largely anonymous on his return to the side.
Despite another lacklustre performance from Max Power last weekend he’s expected to partner the 33-year-old, with Dylan McGeouch seemingly not fancied by the new regime.
RM: Watmore, CAM: O’Nien, LM: McGeady
Sunderland looked far better when they introduced the legs of Duncan Watmore in the last 20 minutes of Saturday’s draw, and he must start this evening is we want to begin strongly.
Watmore has his doubters, but there can be no denying we look a better side when he is in the team, with his pace stretching sides and giving us a dimension we otherwise lack.
Chris Maguire produced another woeful performance at the weekend and will surely drop to the bench now that Luke O’Nien is able to continue in his favoured number ten role.
There may be an opportunity for youngster Benji Kimpioka on the left hand of the advanced three tonight, but we think Aiden McGeady will be given one more chance to prove he is still Sunderland’s match-winner.
ST: Benjamin Kimpioka
Manager Parkinson commented that Kimpioka “is training well” and “has to be ready to make another statement” during his press conference yesterday, and we think he’ll finally lose patience with Will Grigg and try the Swedish wildcard in the hope he can inject some more pace into the side.
Whilst Grigg did try his very hardest on Saturday, the fact Benji managed to stick the ball in the onion bag within 10 minutes of his introduction tells you exactly how it’s going for the former Wigan man right now.