GK: Jon McLaughlin
When he is fit, he starts.
After an iffy few weeks, big Jon has came right back into his own in the wins over Portsmouth and Rochdale over the last seven days, looking calm under pressure at the end of both contests and producing the steady, safe hands we’ve required in both matches.
Whilst Lee Burge did nothing wrong in his appearance at Accrington, it will take a big dip in form if he is to replace Jon McLaughlin, and thus the Scottish stopper will start today’s game.
DR: O’Nien DC: Willis DC: Ozturk DL: Hume
Luke O’Nien is still our best option at right back, and the fact he has regained the spot this early into the season shows the amount of trust Jack Ross has in him there, despite O’Nien’s obvious desire to be further up the pitch.
On the opposite flank, there’s a case for putting Denver Hume back into the side after a few awkward looking performances from right footed Conor McLaughlin. Whilst we’ve won three in three with him there, this feels like a great chance to put Denver back in after his short lay-off, giving some balance to our back line in what would be a more attacking selection.
As for the centre of defence, Jordan Willis and Alim Ozturk’s commanding performances since being paired together ensure they’ll form the defensive spine of the team.
CM: Power CM: Leadbitter
Sunderland captain Grant Leadbitter seems to have relished his role as captain and is looking like a man ready for the League One promotion battle. His performance at home to Portsmouth last week was, in my opinion, his best ninety minutes since his return to the club and he backed that up with a solid performance against Rochdale.
I’m torn on who his midfield partner could be. There’s no doubt we’ve looked much better with Max Power in the side, but he had basically no pre-season and it’ll be his third game in a week, so a rest may be required.
We could quite easily see George Dobson come into the side to be Leadbitter’s legs and give Max a rest, but I think Ross will start with the former Wigan Athletic man in the hope he’ll not be feeling any tiredness after he was taken off twenty five minutes from the end of Wednesday’s win.
RAM: Gooch CAM: Maguire LAM: McGeady
If Aiden McGeady is fit, he plays - simple as that.
His importance to Sunderland was yet against evidenced in Wednesday’s night victory over Rochdale, where he contributed a goal and an assist even when he wasn’t firing on all cylinders.
We’ll also likely see Chris Maguire who, despite his quiet performance mid-week, has shown he thrives on the expectation of the Stadium of Light crowd. Alongside McGeady, he’s our only other match winner and our best fit for the number ten role.
On the right Lynden Gooch should keep his place after scoring against both Oxford United and Ipswich Town, whereas he also played a huge role in the opening goal midweek. Gooch, Maguire and McGeady are all on form and Ross will surely persist with the advanced midfield trio.
ST: Charlie Wyke
Talk about stepping up to the plate!
Charlie Wyke has been a man mountain since his return to the squad in our 3-1 League Cup over Accrington Stanley, and added to his growing reputation on Wearside with the winner in the win over Rochdale in midweek to double his tally for the season.
Perhaps it’s that fantastic looking Turkish transplant.
With Marc McNulty injured until at least the Peterborough game and Will Grigg seemingly shot for confidence, Wyke has no real challenge for his role at the moment, but he’ll be looking to build on his terrific form to fight off the competition of McNulty when he returns from his injury.