Lee Burge ended his ever present start to Sunderland’s League One campaign in last week’s defeat against MK Dons. A slight knee injury meant he was only fit enough for the bench with understudy Remi Matthews taking his place in between the sticks.
Although Matthews did himself no harm with a solid performance last weekend, I expect Burge to return to the starting line up, provided he has fully recovered from last week’s knock.
CB: McLaughlin CB: Wright CB: Flanagan RWB: O'Nien LWB: Hume
Sunderland fielded a hotchpotch back five last weekend, with Luke O’Nien and Lynden Gooch both appearing out of position at centre back and wing back respectively.
With Flanagan and McLaughlin both returning from international duty, Sunderland will at least be able to call on three senior centre-halves to make up their back three. Both Northern Irishmen will come into that back three, with Jordan Willis out with an injury that has been hampering his performances for the last couple of weeks.
At wing back, Denver Hume’s position as started has been further confirmed by a knock suffered by Callum McFadzean, whilst Luke O’Nien is likely to start even after suffering a slight injury of his own in training this week.
CM: Scowen CM: Leadbitter CM: Embleton
In the middle of the park, Phil Parkinson found out once again that the trio of Leadbitter, Scowen and Power aren’t good enough if his side are to turn their form around.
Although Parky’s options were reduced last weekend - with Lynden Gooch forced into wing back due to injuries in defence - he does have a greater number of players to choose from today.
I’m picking Scowen and Leadbitter to survive from the disappointing result last week, but I think that Elliot Embleton will be given a chance from the start after missing out against MK Dons.
Personally, I would have given the academy graduate an hour on Saturday, but surely he must start today if Parkinson is to prove that he is not stubbornly refusing to play younger players.
ST: Wyke ST: Graham
Along with Bailey Wright, Charlie Wyke is probably the only Sunderland player who can be certain of getting a start when he is fit. Although the goals have dried up once again recently for the big number nine, none of Sunderland’s other strikers have shown anything to make the former Carlisle striker worried about losing his place.
Will Grigg was given an opportunity last Saturday but failed to impress, so I think Sunderland are going to start their merry-go-round of strikers once against. This week, I think it’ll be Danny Graham’s turn.