GK: Jon McLaughlin
Despite a poor performance at Accrington Stanley, the big Scottish international had an improved performance in the Tuesday night draw at home to Rotherham United, and thus will keep his place.
The form of McLaughlin has been patchy at best this term, but after a couple of important saves midweek, he’ll be hoping to put that behind him and reach the heights that he did last season - starting today.
RB: O’Nien - CB: Willis - CB: Ozturk - LB: Hume
Jack Ross surprised everyone in midweek as he opted to push Luke O’Nien into his favoured number ten role, bringing in summer signing Conor McLaughlin at right back. Will we see the same again this afternoon? We doubt it.
The incompetence of the Northern Ireland international means it’s safe to say he’ll likely revert to type and bring O’Nien back to full back.
Joel Lynch is earmarked for his first appearance in the squad, but Jordan Willis and Alim Ozturk are the first choice centre backs and should continue as such despite our inability to keep a clean sheet so far this term.
As for Denver Hume, he will remain at left back despite a poor performance against the Millers, as his direct competition Laurens De Bock is still building up his fitness following his deadline day switch from Leeds United.
CM: Power - CM: McGeouch
Ross opted for the energy of George Dobson in midweek, but we would expect Max Power to make his return at the Macron for his first start since the 3-0 defeat at Peterborough United, with the former Walsall captain missing out following a poor performance against the Millers.
There’s an argument that Grant Leadbitter should be restored to the starting line up alongside Power, but Dylan McGeouch was very tidy in the draw against Rotherham United until we decided to smash long balls over his head and you’d expect he’ll be given a further chance to impress.
RW: Gooch - CAM: Maguire - LW: McGeady
Lynden Gooch has been right back at it this season and has three goals already. He looks far more like himself having tailed off horribly towards the end of the last campaign, and he will deservedly keep his place on the right hand side of an advanced midfield three.
Despite a below-par performance on Tuesday from our Irish wizard, Aiden McGeady will start on the opposite flank. He looked out of sorts following his missed penalty at the Stadium of Light, but could have easily have came out of the game with a goal had Millers ‘keeper Dan Iversen not tipped his magnificent solo effort around the post. If Aiden is fit - he plays.
Supposedly Chris Maguire was struggling with injury on Tuesday and, although Luke O’Nien did himself no harm in the number ten role, the need to place him in defence due to Conor McLaughlin’s lack of form will see the King will come back in this afternoon - and there’ll not be many fans who’ll argue against that.
ST: Marc McNulty
Quite why Jack Ross felt the need to replace our best player on Tuesday night is anyone’s guess, so hopefully he won’t make the same mistake again this afternoon.
The on-loan Reading striker is quickly showing he is Sunderland’s best outlet and scored his third goal of the season in our midweek draw, showing his strength, pace and alertness to stick the ball in the onion bag just 30 seconds after kick-off.
That aside, Charlie Wyke’s glaring miss and Will Grigg’s sheer lack of confidence should see Ross make the right decision and start with the Scottish striker in today’s match at Bolton.