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Starting XI: Is this the Sunderland side that will take on Charlton Athletic?

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STARTING XI: Is this the Sunderland team that will take on Charlton at the Valley today?

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

GK: Lee Burge

Sunderland’s first choice goalkeeper hasn’t conceded for 267 minutes and is yet to concede a goal from open play this season. After a shaky start on the opening day, Lee Burge has firmly cemented himself as Sunderland’s number one ahead of Remi Matthews.

Sunderland v Bristol Rovers - Sky Bet League One
The only goal Lee Burge has conceded this season
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

CB: Willis CB: Wright CB: Flanagan RWB: O'Nien LWB: Hume

Like the goalkeeper, Phil Parkinson may as well photocopy the top half of his team sheet and fill in the blanks further up the pitch. The back five that ended last season have started this season in similar form, something which has completely covered up the fact that Arbenit Xhemajli is the only defender in Sunderland’s squad that can be considered an adequate replacement for any of the first choice back five.

Sunderland’s squad is clearly thin in defence, but it is certainly not lacking in quality.


CM: Leadbitter CM: Power

After a surprising return to the side in Sunderland’s last away game, Grant Leadbitter has repaid Phil Parkinson’s faith in the club captain and provides both a defensive shield in front of the back three, and remains the best passer of a football in the squad.

Many may have written off Grant Leadbitter, but in the last couple of games he has shown the reasons why he was brought back to the club under Jack Ross 18 months ago.

Josh Scowen got his long awaited chance to start in the league this season, however after a slightly underwhelming performance he is likely to me the man to miss out as Max Power - the captain - will return to his role in the middle of the park.

Sunderland put the perfect away performance the last time these two played together; Phil Parkinson will be hoping for the same this afternoon.

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

AM: Gooch

Lynden Gooch was rewarded for his goal as a substitute with a start against Peterborough but, along with the rest of the forward players on the pitch, he failed to make a major impact on the game.

That being said, Chris Maguire is a doubt for today’s game after going off injured last week and with Elliot Embleton injured and Diamond and Neil yet to appear in the league this season Gooch is the only option if Phil Parkinson doesn’t wish to change his system.


ST: Will Grigg ST: Aiden O’Brien

Charlie Wyke was rewarded for some good hold up play once coming off the bench last weekend, but he followed a promising game up with an anonymous performance against Peterborough last week.

With that in mind, and Parkinson’s clear uncertainty in Danny Graham since he was so quick to remove him from the side last week means that I can see some two changes up front for today’s game.

Will Grigg hasn’t appeared since the first week of the season, but with a different forward being chosen for each game it may be his turn once against to make himself the first of Sunderland’s strikers to get on the score sheet.

Alongside him, Aiden O’Brien dropped out of the side with Lynden Gooch’s return, but since Maguire will miss out tomorrow he is likely to be given another opportunity to show Sunderland fans why he has spent most of his career in the Championship.

Sunderland v Bristol Rovers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images