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STARTING XI: Will Sunderland go unchanged today, or will Parkinson bring Watmore back in?

With Sunderland playing their third game in seven days, will Phil Parkinson keep his faith in the side that defeated Doncaster when his team come up against Joey Barton’s Fleetwood?

Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

GK: Jon McLaughlin

With the news that former goalkeeper Ben Alnwick is training with the club, many thought it may spell the end to the Scottish keeper’s time on Wearside, but big Jon is gradually getting back to the form we were so used to seeing last year.

He made a terrific save against Bolton on Boxing Day, but let himself down with Doncaster’s equaliser on Sunday - he did little else wrong in the game, however.

For what it’s worth, when he’s on form, McLaughlin is the best goalkeeper in the league and it’s good to see he’s been trusted more in recent weeks.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

CB: Willis CB: Ozturk CB: Lynch

We’re not sure anyone likes the back three (or is it a five?) formation, but there’s no doubt it looked decent against Doncaster. As such, Phil Parkinson will 100% keep faith with it.

Tom Flanagan is still out injured, so it’s unlikely there’ll be many changes, if any, in the centre of Sunderland’s defence.

Jordan Willis is looking comfortable on the right-hand side and has been bringing the ball out of defence nicely. Alim Ozturk is the brutish one in the middle who is capable of just ‘getting rid’ (even sometimes with his hand), and Joel Lynch looked back to his normal self in the win at the Keepmoat.

We may potentially see Laurens De Bock come in to give the defence a pair of fresh legs, but Ozturk aside, Lynch and Willis should still be fresh enough after missing games over December.

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

RWB: O’Nien CM: Dobson CM: Power LWB: Hume

Slowly but surely Luke O’Nien’s is morphing into a right-wing back, and doing pretty well with it too. Without wanting to write Conor McLaughlin off just yet, there’s really only one choice in that position and it’s Luke’s to lose.

Denver Hume has been our most consistent player for weeks now and is deserving of all the praise he is getting. At the moment, he’s one of the first names on the team-sheet.

In the engine room is where Sunderland have lacked the most this season, but both George Dobson and Max Power put in good shifts in our 2-1 win over Doncaster, so it would be a mistake to replace either of them as we look to start 2020 with a big, fat three points.

Oxford United v Sunderland AFC - Carabao Cup Round of 16 Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images

RAM: Gooch LAM: Maguire

How good was Lynden Gooch on Sunday? The performance from the American typified the dogged determination the Lads showed, and his grit seemed to drag the rest of the team up a level. Gooch has to start and let’s hope he leads from the front again.

On the left hand side, Chris Maguire may face a challenge from Duncan Watmore, but it would be very harsh to drop him after he bagged the winner on Sunday, so he’ll likely keep his place with the knowledge Watmore can come on for the last twenty when legs are tiring.

Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

CF: Charlie Wyke

As stated in our last predicted XI, as long as Parkinson has a hole in his backside, Wyke will be his preferred centre-forward. It’s just how it is.

The former Bradford City striker has a decent enough game and caused plenty of problem for Doncaster, but missed an absolute sitter that should have put us in the lead early in the second-half.

It’s a concern that none of our strikers seem capable of scoring goals on a regular basis, but at least with Wyke, he can bring others into the attack.

Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

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