GK: Jon McLaughlin
The Scottish goalkeeper surprisingly returned to the side in the 1-0 defeat to Gillingham and performed fairly well, so is likely to stay in the nets this weekend.
Lee Burge hasn’t done a great deal wrong, and quite who Phil Parkinson classes as his number one is anyone’s guess, but right now it’s seemingly McLaughlin.
Without only one clean sheet this season, the Scotland number 2 will be hoping to justify the manager’s decision with a performance more befitting of his form from last season.
CB: Lynch CB: Ozturk CB: Flanagan
Jordan Willis has been struggling with a knee injury this week and we feel he will miss out. His partner for much of this season, Joel Lynch, is likely to replace him tomorrow as Sunderland continue with a back three formation that has taken plenty criticism this season.
Alim Ozturk and Tom Flanagan returned to the starting eleven last week and will continue, with Flanagan and Ozturk joining Joel Lynch in the centre.
RM: O’Nien CM: Dobson CM: Power LM: Hume
Max Power returns from suspension this weekend, and we are certain he’ll return to the starting 11 replacing captain Grant Leadbitter in the engine room.
Alongside him will be George Dobson, who provides energy in the middle and is seemingly well liked by the manager, who has started him at every opportunity since he took the reins two months ago.
With Parkinson favouring a back three, he’ll place Luke O’Nien at right-wing back in place of Conor McLaughlin, whilst Laurens De Bock’s poor performance at Gillingham will likely allow Denver Hume to come back into the squad in the position where he started the season, albeit not positively.
RM: Watmore LM: Maguire
Parkinson admitted that American Lynden Gooch will be available for the first time since the 5-0 home win over Tranmere Rovers, and whilst there’s a chance he will start - and it would be fair to say we have missed him - we think he’ll go with Chris Maguire on the left, after he talked up the Scottish winger’s work rate in thursday’s press conference.
After all the ludicrous furore surrounding his visit to McDonalds last week, Maguire will be desperate to show he’s more than capable of still being Sunderland’s match winner, even with a belly full of Big Mac - and who would bet against him?
With the lack of pace throughout the Sunderland side, Parkinson will call on Duncan Watmore again as he attempts to mix pace and guile on the wings.
ST: Charlie Wyke
We started with both Will Grigg and Marc McNulty up front in last week’s defeat to Gillingham, but didn’t trouble Jack Bonham in the Gills goal until Wyke came on.
It’s blatantly obvious that Parkinson sees Wyke as a player who can help turn around the fortunes of his team, given that he prefers a direct style of football and Wyke offers him an outlet up top.