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Roker Roundtable: Sunderland’s captain hit with suspension - who takes his place on Tuesday?

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George Honeyman is suspended as a result of the red card he got on Saturday, so who takes his place in Sunderland’s side and - perhaps more importantly - who wears the captain’s armband?

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Q: Presuming George Honeyman’s red card stands, we have two dilemmas facing us ahead of Tuesday night - who comes into the team in his place, and who leads out the side?

Craig Davies says...

I feel for Honeyman at times. He’s often the go-to guy for supporter grumbling. If he gets anything above a 5 out of 10 for an individual performance it engenders a flurry of heart embolisms and fierce opposition.

Personally I admire him, I just don’t think he’s guaranteed a place in the team. So on that theme, it’s with interest I write about his recent suspension from first team activities.

To replace him in the team, I’d like to see Aidan McGeady given a central role as a fluid no.10 linking midfield to attack. He can shoot with either foot, has composure in front of goal, can spot a space and pass with accuracy. He also has bags of experience. On the wing I’d bring in Gooch for pace and work rate. I love ‘the Gooch’ for his energy and work rate but he can run down too many blind alleys to be a genuine link man. However his enthusiasm and intensity could be a big help for the more conservative and attack inhibited Reece James.

The captaincy should fall to Leadbitter or Catts.

I know the argument against Lee Barry, with the weight of responsibility impacting performance. But for a couple of matches as a stand in, I can’t see a problem. Yet, if Leadbitter was given the armband, he may just tick every box and no one can complain if a man of his experience led the team. He’s been a captain on many occasions and done so with aplomb.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Neil Green says...

Apart from the blip at Wycombe we’ve played well and got good results recently with a settled side, so I think Ross will stay as close to that as possible.

I know there’ll be some calls to see O’Nien moved up there, and Matthews at right back, or even some who think we should try 4-4-2 again (please god no) but the sensible choice is probably bringing Gooch in. He’s been out of the first eleven lately so should be rehungrified (definitely a word). I’d personally move Morgan inside and put Gooch on the wing, but a straight swap of Gooch in for Honeyman could work as well.

Honeyman gave the armband to Catts when subbed on Saturday, but we can’t read too much into that.

I agree with some others who say the captaincy doesn’t bring the best out of Lee Barry, so I would give it to Leadbitter. For all that I like Honeyman as a player and a captain, I imagine if we’d had the squad we have now back in August, Grant would be the skipper.

He has all the passion and love for the club that George has, but huge amounts more experience.

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Chris Sparks says...

Honeyman divides opinion among fans but I personally like him and he will be a big miss on Tuesday. I don’t think he’s the best leader on the pitch but I do think he has the best work ethic in the squad and is always linking the play between midfield and attack.

As for who comes in for him, well I’d personally stick Morgan in his position. The two are very similar type of players and same build and I’d argue that the main reason we haven’t seen the best out of Morgan is due to his positioning on the pitch.

Stick Morgan in the CAM role and bring Gooch back into the side. The American has been much improved in his two substitute appearances this week and probably deserves a starting spot in the hope that he can recapture his early season form.

Our play has lacked a natural wide player on the right hand side in recent weeks, largely due to Morgan playing there. Having two players hugging the touchline in Gooch and McGeady would free up some space in the middle and hopefully will allow the likes of Morgan and Leadbitter that bit of extra time to find a killer pass to Grigg (much like Max Power did in midweek).

As for who leads the team out, id avoid giving the armband to Catts at all costs.

Over the years the armband has been a hindrance to his play and seems to psychologically psyche him out. Let Catts concentrate on doing what he does and graft his socks off in the middle of the park and give the band to someone else, but who?

A seasoned pro like McGeady could do a job but I’m old fashioned and prefer my skipper to be in defence looking at the play and his team in front of him.

I’d stick it on Jack Baldwin and bring him back into the starting lineup in place of one of the headless chickens Dunne and Flanagan.