Q: Sunderland changed a lot of players for last night’s game and we won emphatically away from home. All of those that came in did well. Would you make any changes for Saturday in order to bring some of the rested players back in, or would you keep the same side?
The only change I’d make would be Morgan for Gooch. Lynden is a decent player but he’s often selfish when in good positions - and as Morgan showed when he laid Kaz Sterling’s late goal on a plate, he isn’t.
There’s not a lot between the two but Gooch needs to learn that his role in the side isn’t to always score goals. We have forwards often better placed to receive the ball when he gets around the box, and until he starts showing he can do it then I think Morgan deserves to start ahead of him.
The shape on Tuesday was really good and barring any further injury problems I see no real need to make changes. McGeouch was our best player and Power did well too, so whilst Leadbitter and Cattermole are first choice they shouldn’t lose their places.
The only one I could make an argument for would be bringing in Leadbitter as his set pieces are deadly, but with a strong squad it’d surely make sense for Ross to try and keep the team together that won the other night and kept a clean sheet, and then reassess for the Burton game on Tuesday.
We’ve got loads of football to play in the next month and after a hectic week we’re perhaps best off just taking the calm and sensible approach, retaining the lads that did so well the other night whilst giving some of the older lads extra time to get back to peak fitness.
Craig Davies says...
Firstly - and I know to my mates I’m like a broken record - but Grigg scores yet again when there is an extra body making a nuisance of himself and creating space for Grigg to thrive among the shadows.
Wyke was tough, uncompromising and battled his way to an excellent performance. His finishing was that of a man with low confidence, not low ability. But this will only improve by playing. For me, to develop his confidence and to bring the best out of Grigg, Wyke deserves another start.
McGeouch also played very well and an argument can be made for him too. Denver Hume’s natural attacking flair is preferable to Reece James’ conservative approach to left full back and should also gain a starting position.
It would be tough to drop any of the lads that have done so well for so long this season. They could all argue they’d be hard done by if they were left out at such a crucial stage of the playing calendar. But the manager has to be pragmatic.
If Catts’ legs are gone, he can’t play out of sentiment. Likewise Leadbitter, who also looked shattered at Wembley. But if they are both fit and up for it, it would be tough to drop either, although McGeouch will be pushing them very close and if he does beat them to the button, few would be overly disappointed and he wouldn’t let anyone down.
But however the selections fall, I think Wednesday night showed we are better in attack mode than we are defending and for me playing two upfront is key to that. That would be my biggest change and I think we’d really see the benefit in our remaining games.
James Nickels says...
It’s a difficult one - the players who lost their place through suspension, injury or rest have served us well for a long time. However, after such a commanding and effective away performance I’d change as little as physically possible.
At Spotland we face a similarly-placed Rochdale side who also look to get in behind and play it direct as often as possible to Wilbraham and Henderson up top.
The pitch itself is also very small, especially in width - it’s among the narrowest in the Football League. As a result, it’d be wise to keep the line-up as similar as possible. None of those who came in deserve to be dropped, and we’d be better suited playing a 4-4-2 on this pitch.
Wyke and Grigg clearly benefit from having a striking partner - Grigg has two-in-two, and Wyke is currently in his best form of the season. Further down the field, Power and McGeouch’s energy and athleticism suits playing a flat four much more than Catts and Leadbitter and Denver Hume has been a revelation in attack. His wing-play is too notch and allows McGeady to be that crucial link between midfield and attack.
I wouldn’t change a thing, but Ross has a massive task on his hands with so many big-name and previously first choice players now back in the fold.