Q: Put yourself in Jack Ross’s shoes - do you try and keep the momentum going and select the same/a similar side to the one that has been winning games, or do you make mass changes at Burnley? What would you change, and why?
Morgan Lowrie says...
The league is the only priority, and although there’s a winning streak on the line, this game has the definite feel of a free hit. Burge should get a run out to build on solid performances in pre season and stay in tune should he be called upon in the league. It would be nice to see Hume test himself against top opposition, likewise Embleton. Some may say that the key is striking a fair balance, limit the first teamers who have played a lot of minutes whilst not making too many changes to disrupt the squad. However, this game is completely irrelevant in the short term future of the side, and therefore Jack Ross should be tempted to make as many changes as necessary to limit his key players to unnecessary minutes.
Players on the fringes should feature heavily.
Despite Burnley being a top a side their style of play means Sunderland should get a fair bit of the ball, which is usually not the case when League One sides face Premier League opposition. For that reason playing Embleton, Hume, Robson, Dobson and possibly Mumba - all players very comfortable on the ball who haven’t played tons of football - would be beneficial from all perspectives.
Taking most first teamers out removes even the thought of disturbing momentum, as it’s a game that doesn’t factor on the minds of players not involved.
Due to squad size, it is likely that Grigg, Wyke, Gooch, Willis, McLaughlin and O’Nien will feature in some capacity but, in the case of protecting key players from injuries, Ross should make as many changes as he can.
One final point to consider - Will Grigg needs a goal. However, it’s unlikely to come against one of the best performing home Premier League sides. Should he play and try and break his barren run, or would 90 minutes without another goal, when in all likelihood he won’t face tougher opposition this season, do more harm than good?
Mark Carrick says...
Immediately after the game Jack Ross’s thoughts were fully on the Peterborough game and it’s importance to our season as a whole. Whilst the cup gives us another game before the trip south, Ross was clear he’d make changes for what he saw as a ‘free hit’ of a game.
Keeping the shape of the team will be important but bringing players in who haven’t featured will both given them experience against an established Premier League side and the opportunity to press their own claims for a league start.
To that end, we have the likes of Dylan McGeouch and George Dobson who can replace the central pair, Elliot Embleton who can come in for either Gooch or McGeady and Grigg to play off Wyke and rest Maguire. In defence Conor McLaughlin should start in his favoured right back slot and it’s a toss-up with who should start in goal. I’d be tempted to keep Hume, Ozturk and Willis together to build understanding and Wyke up top, but almost every other place is up for grabs.
The chances of a League One side progressing in any cup competition against higher placed sides, especially Premier League ones, is slim.
Momentum wont be lost midweek - but not winning on Saturday could have a greater long-term effect. Therefore, the weekend game needs to remain the club’s focus and ensure the first XI are fully prepared for the challenge we will face at London Road.
Neil Graney says...
I don’t think that Jack Ross will make wholesale changes.
I was surprised at how strong the team was in round one, and whilst Ross was under a little pressure to get a result at the time, I think he’s focusing on momentum - making eleven changes would disrupt that.
I think there will be five or six changes. Lee Burge will be the ‘cup keeper’, and then we are likely to see changes in midfield with George Dobson and Dylan McGeouch coming in.
Will Grigg has got to start to try and build some confidence and match fitness. You’d think he’ll rest/protect Aiden McGeady and Chris Maguire ahead of a huge game on Saturday. Whilst Alim Ozturk and Jordan Willis have emerged as the strongest back two, Tom Flanagan is likely to come in. Connor McLaughlin for Luke O’Nien may be a final change.