GK: Jon McLaughlin
The big Scottish stopper was back to his best on Saturday, making some fine saves and catchy literally every cross that Portsmouth threw into the box. When it comes to being a safe custodian, McLaughlin is up there.
Jack Ross commented that he was the best goalkeeper in League One in his post-match interview and you’d be hard pushed to argue against it.
DR: O’Nien DC: Willis DC: Ozturk DL: McLaughlin
One of the big talking points that came out of Saturday’s crucial three points over Pompey was the commanding performances of our centre-back pairing Alim Ozturk and Jordan Willis.
Ozturk was bizarrely out of the picture at the beginning of the season, despite ending 18/19 strongly, however - based on the past two games at least - he looks to be the perfect partner for new boy Jordan Willis. Ross will find it hard to replace these two at the heart of the defence if they keep up the form they showed against Portsmouth.
Whether Luke O’Nien sees himself as a right-back permanently is one question but there’s no doubt he looks like the best option currently in that role, whereas Conor McLaughlin was steady enough on the left to keep his place.
CM: Power CM: Leadbitter
Grant Leadbitter put in a real captain’s performance on Saturday, covering every blade of grass and driving the team on with sheer, unadulterated aggression - possibly his best performance since returning back to the club in January.
Max Power also looks back to his best and was outstanding on Saturday both defensively and offensively, whipping in some great balls and being strong in the tackle.
We have a few options in the middle but, like the partnership of Ozturk and Willis, Ross would be silly to not keep with these two afters the last two performances.
RAM: Gooch CAM: Maguire LAM: McGeady
Lynden Gooch is a man in form. Whilst others struggled in the opening few weeks, the American kept us ticking over, scoring two goals and pulling us out of the mire in the game against Oxford United and Ipswich Town. He had a terrific second half on Saturday too and really stretched the Pompey back-line and fully deserves his place in the starting eleven at the moment.
Aiden McGeady is the first name on the team sheet when fit and on the evidence of his performance on Saturday, the Glaswegian is fully up to speed and is has rid himself of that troublesome foot injury.
Chris Maguire showed, yet again, he’s the man for the big occasion and better yet, the King should still be fresh as a daisy considering Saturday was only his second ninety minutes of the season.
You’d be hard pushed to argue against these three starting tonight.
ST: Charlie Wyke
Our only change for tonight’s game should be in the striking department, and it is an enforced one due to injury.
Marc McNulty limped off on Saturday and, as yet, we don’t fully know how long that will keep him out of action, but based on Charlie Wyke’s immense performance in the second half on Saturday will guarantee that he gets the nod ahead of under-performing Will Grigg - and not many will be disappointed to see that.
After enduring a fairly horrific start to his Sunderland career, Wyke has knuckled down and shown a superb strength of character to became a huge weapon in Jack Ross’ arsenal and has, in turn, become a loveable, cult-hero of sorts that is beginning to show signs of the ability we were told he has when he first joined the club little over a year ago.