GK: Jon McLaughlin
McLaughlin’s long-term future seems to be up in the air at the moment, but he is getting closer and closer to the form that saw him seriously impress supporters last season.
McLaughlin only has two clean sheets this term, but it would be fair to say the goals he conceded at Fleetwood Town, a dubious penalty, and the goal conceded against Lincoln City last week, a potential foul on Hume and a probable offside, means he’s been a little unlucky not to add to that tally lately.
McLaughlin is our number one, and long may his form continue.
CB: Willis CB: Ozturk CB: Flanagan
Despite originally looking like a defensive back five, Sunderland’s formation has looked more like a 3-4-3 recently and it has reaped its rewards, with seven points out of nine over the festive period.
Tom Flanagan returned to the side last week and performed very well so should continue in defence, despite being linked with a move to the Championship this week.
Alongside Flanagan will be Alim Ozturk, who has become one of the first names on the team-sheet, whilst Jordan Willis, who has looked very adept at bringing the ball out of defence recently, will continue on the right-hand side.
RM: O’Nien CM: Dobson CM: Power LM: Hume
Much like the defence, the midfield picks itself after three impressive performances over the Christmas period.
George Dobson put in his best performance of the season against Lincoln City, with an energetic performance that he will hope to replicate, whereas Max Power looked back to his best in the same game as they complimented each other well. Dylan McGeouch’s move to Aberdeen this week means Grant Leadbitter will be available on the bench.
In the wing-back positions, Luke O’Nien and Denver Hume have been the most consistent players in the side and have added an extra dimension to Sunderland’s attacking play.
RAM: Gooch LAM: Maguire
What an impact Lynden Gooch has made since his return from injury. The American has breathed new life into Sunderland’s attack and Phil Parkinson must surely be delighted with the impact he’s made, scoring three goals in three games over the festive period. It’s now his place to lose.
The same can be said for Chris Maguire, who has started to produce the form we all know he is capable of and has two goals and three assists from the last three games.
Sunderland are bang in form and a lot of it is down to the performances of these two.
ST: Charlie Wyke
Although Sunderland’s form has improved, Charlie Wyke has continued to struggle to find the back of net. It’s no coincidence that we’re being linked to the likes of Kyle Lafferty and Gary Madine, and Wyke will be hoping for a change of fortunes as he leads the line this afternoon.
A failure to find the net today could result in the Teessider losing his place in the starting line-up if moves for any of the aforementioned forwards are completed by the time we play MK Dons, so he’ll know he needs to perform.