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Do Sunderland need a settled side as the games come thick and fast?

With a congested fixture list about to hit the Sunderland squad, will Phil Parkinson need to rotate the squad to give players a break or does he need to keep a settled side?

Sunderland v Crewe Alexandra - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Do Sunderland need a settled side as the games come thick and fast?

Tom Albrighton says...

With plentiful fixtures for Sunderland to embark on over the coming days, squad rotation won’t be a request but more so a necessity. Whilst Parkinson will keep the continuity where possible, at times rotation will be key.

This is an area where trusting the younger players in our squad will be key, with Diamond and Neil more than ready to take their opportunity amongst the Sunderland squad, though with our defensive issues, these may come in unfamiliar areas of the field.

I’d personally be delighted in seeing younger players afforded the opportunity to impress and progress at the behest of certain players who have failed to live up to expectations or continue to stagnate.

This is where the younger players will surely be afforded chances, be it starts or frequent cameos from the bench. Rotation is key to stave off injury and tiredness in a long, arduous season.

As for Will Grigg, in the forward areas rotation will be less forthcoming and for me, the Northern Ireland international’s career at Sunderland came to its conclusion on Tuesday night when he remained an unused substitute with Danny Graham, or in this case the underwhelming O’Brien was favoured.

In short, Parkinson is right to pursue as much continuity as is possible over the coming month, but also has to be open to not overworking his players during such a busy time. As with almost every decision, hypothetical or otherwise for Parkinson, it’s another balancing act performed on a knife edge.

Charlton Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One - The Valley
Will Grigg in action for Sunderland at Charlton Athletic
Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Rich Speight says...

Rotation may not be Phil Parkinson’s preference, but it’s likely to become an unavoidable necessity over this hectic month to come.

Injuries have already taken their toll on our defence, and I’d personally like to see the whole squad being given opportunities now so that they can gain better understanding of the system and build partnerships that will pay off later in the season.

What we’ve seen in the last few games is that Parkinson’s settled system, especially at the back, has been kept, and players have been shoe-horned into unfamiliar roles. We have an abundance of options and a number of midfield and attacking formations that can be used in front of the stable and settled “cradle” of the back three. Introducing the younger players such as Kimpioka, Sanderson, Diamond and Neil, must surely be part of his plan.

The one constant will, I think, be Bailey Wright. His commanding presence sets the tone for the rest of the side and despite our worries about his liability to pick up injuries, I think we should keep using him while we can.

Charlton Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Bailey Wright must stay in the side according to Rich Speight
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Gary Engel says...

We know most other clubs at League One level will look at our strength-in-depth with a large degree of envy, just as David Artell’s comments earlier in the week seemed to show.

In the most-part, the squad is quite interchangeable. We’ve had injuries and suspensions without any real issue so far. The spine of the team is what we need to protect; Wright, Leadbitter and Maguire all bring something different to table which can’t easily be replaced.

With other sides stretched and leggy in the next few weeks, it could be the perfect time for fresh, young blood to show what they can do. Although we may have to really dig in through the next few weeks, against weary opponents, without a baying crowd, some of the younger lads could find the matches a little more forgiving.

Given their chance Diamond and Kimpioka could build some confidence and stake a claim as we’re certainly crying out for some real pace.

Phil Parkinson is very much the kind of old-school manager that sticks with his best XI but the fixture pile up over the coming weeks will certainly prove a massive test for how adaptable he or his squad really are.

No matter who is in the side we are not going to score a landslide of goals, but would expect us to remain steady. Promotions are not won in October or November, but these coming matches and results could eventually prove the difference in the race for the Championship.

Swindon Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Jack Diamond in action for Sunderland at Swindon Town
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

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