GK: Lee Burge
The former Coventry City stopper has only appeared for Jack Ross in the League Cup so far this term, and will likely continue to do so at Bramall Lane.
Burge has performed admirably when given an opportunity and, with question marks being raised over the form of Jon McLaughlin, he’ll want to showcase his ability in the hope he can ramp up the pressure on his counterpart.
If Burge is to perform well at Bramall Lane, there can be no denying that calls for his inclusion in the side will ring a little louder.
RB: McLaughlin CB: Flanagan CB: Lynch LB: De Bock
Sunderland have injury doubts in the centre of defence, with both Jordan Willis and Alim Ozturk facing a race against time to be fit for tonight’s League Cup clash.
The double injury blow means that new signing Joel Lynch will almost certainly be handed a Sunderland debut and is likely be paired with Tom Flanagan at the heart of Jack Ross’ defence.
Regular left back Denver Hume was hauled off at half time in Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 draw, so we could also see another debut at full back in the shape of on-loan Leeds United defender Laurens De Bock. Luke O’Nien deputised there at Bolton, but it’s unlikely Ross will continue with that particular experiment.
On the opposite side, summer signing Conor McLaughlin will probably be given a further opportunity to nail down the right back berth, having featured there in each of our last two games. He will be under no illusions though that he requires a good performance after a less than impressive start to his Wearside career.
CM: Power CM: Dobson
New game, new central midfield partnership has been the protocol for most of this season but, as of yet, George Dobson and Max Power have not been paired together. Is tonight the night to try something new?
Max Power has had an inconsistent season and has been subjected to sporadic substitute appearances since being replaced in our 3-0 defeat by Peterborough. With Power chomping at the bit to remind under pressure boss Jack Ross of his qualities, we expect he’ll be given a chance to impress.
George Dobson appears to have become the latest midfield favourite of Jack Ross, and the manager will likely utilise his energy against Premier League opposition, as he did in Round Two.
RM: O’Nien CAM: Embleton LM: Gooch
With star man Aiden McGeady out injured and Chris Maguire struggling with a niggle for the past fortnight, the Lads will likely revert to the front three that started in the last round at Burnley.
There’s long been an argument that we are wasting Luke O’Nien at right back. The 24-year-old backed up fans’ claims to play him in a more advanced role during the 3-1 win at Turf Moor, and offered further evidence up his offensive ability in last week’s 1-1 draw with Rotherham United, so Jack Ross will surely be tempted to try him there again tonight.
In the ten role, Elliott Embleton has, rather unfairly, not been afforded a real chance at nailing down a first team spot of his own. Ross will look to utilise tonight’s game to get minutes - and some confidence - into the England youth international.
The left-hand side of the advanced midfield three will most likely be completed by the ever-present Lynden Gooch.
ST: Will Grigg
With Marc McNulty nursing an injury, tonight’s lone forward role is a straight-forward battle between Will Grigg and Charlie Wyke, and we expect Jack Ross to opt for the former Wigan Athletic man.
Despite a poor all-round team performance at Bolton on Saturday, Grigg showed flashes of the player we know he can be. His first touch was impressive, and he could have bagged himself a goal on another day.
Charlie Wyke will be a good option off the bench, but Ross should, and will, continue with the Northern Irishman tonight.