GK: Jon McLaughlin
Big Jon was named in the Scotland squad this week and enjoyed his week off as Lee Burge deputised in the cup win over Burnley, but there’s no doubt he’ll be back in nets for the Lads this weekend as we return to league action.
As stated in last week’s piece, it’s going to take a huge dip in form for the number one to lose his place - and he rarely has a bad performance, never mind a sustained drop off in his performance levels.
DR: O’Nien DC: Willis DC: Ozturk DL: Hume
There’s long been a debate that lovable Luke should be given an opportunity in the number ten role, and his performance at Turf Moor on Wednesday only strengthened those claims. Despite that, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the man who picks the team, Jack Ross, is unable to look past Luke as his first choice right back.
Jordan Willis and Alim Ozturk will continue at the back despite the impressive return of Jack Baldwin and Tom Flanagan - our upturn in form has come from having a strong spine, and the Willis and Ozturk partnership have been paramount to that.
On the left hand side, Denver Hume has more than earned his place with another impressive performance against Burnley after an solid return to the side against AFC Wimbledon.
CM: Power CM: Leadbitter
George Dobson made a strong case to be restored to the starting line up this week, producing a terrific performance at Turf Moor on Wednesday, but we expect Jack Ross to keep faith with the midfield axis of Grant Leadbitter and Max Power this afternoon.
Max Power improves with each game he plays, his limited participation in pre-season not curtailing his performances one iota. Power is beginning to look like a key cog in Jack Ross’ midfield this season.
Our club captain Grant Leadbitter has shown similar improved form. His leadership has been evident in recent wins over Portsmouth and Rochdale, using his extensive experience to drag the side through mounting spells of late pressure in both games to help secure maximum points.
Jack Ross will be confident that Power and Leadbitter can continue to provide the aforementioned attributes this afternoon to help his side navigate a difficult trip to London Road.
RW: Gooch CAM: Maguire LW: McGeady
He’s had a quiet few weeks since his goal scoring start to the season, yet still managed to get involved in the build up to goals at Rochdale and Burnley over the past fortnight, so we’d be very surprised to see anyone other than Lynden Gooch line up on Sunderland’s right hand side.
The left hand side picks itself, with the mercurial Aiden McGeady the first name on the team sheet when fit. Despite an almost non existent pre-season, McGeady has started the campaign in form, with two goals and two assists already.
Despite Jack Ross’ claim that last week’s hat trick hero Chris Maguire is struggling with injury, we expect him to continue in the number ten role supporting Charlie Wyke. The fact he travelled south yesterday indicates he’s fit enough to take some part in the game and, if he’s fit, he starts.
ST: Charlie Wyke
The temptation to throw in Will Grigg after his man of the match performance at Burnley must be huge, but to take Charlie Wyke out after his monstrous performances against Rochdale and AFC Wimbledon would simply be unfair and unjust.
Wyke finally appears to be showing the form we expected when we first purchased him and has been a perfect foil for the likes of Aiden McGeady and Chris Maguire in recent weeks - he should be given the opportunity to continue in the lone forward role.
It will be nice to have a more confident Will Grigg waiting in the wings, though.