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Starting XI: Is this the Sunderland side that will take on Lincoln City today?

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Who do you reckon will make the starting eleven when Lee Johnson looks to get his first league win as Sunderland boss against Lincoln today?

Oldham Athletic v Sunderland: Papa John’s Trophy Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Lee Johnson managed to put the disappointment of last week's defeat against Wigan behind him as Sunderland came from behind in the Papa John's Trophy to beat Oldham two goals to one.

Johnson played a strong side against his former club, and that could give us a few clues as to which players he'll be relying on as he gets his feet under the manager's desk at the Stadium of Light. Here's the team I think he'll pick for this afternoon.


GK: Burge

Anthony Patterson's good performance in midweek may well have moved him above Remi Matthews in the pecking order, but I still think the more experienced Burge is the number one keeper for the time being.

Burge is nothing flashy as a goalkeeper, and certainly less exciting than throwing in one of our own, but he's proven that he can perform at a standard level for League One and that should be good enough for a team competing at the top of the division.

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

RB: Sanderson CB: Wright CB: Flanagan LB: McFadzean

Sunderland's defence is becoming the easiest part of the team to predict at the minute, mainly because we only have 5 fit defenders to play in Les Johnson's back four.

Dion Sanderson was named in the starting line up for Tuesday's game at Boundary Park before realising he was ineligible having already appeared in the competition for Wolves' under 23s.

Since it will be impossible for Sanderson to find game time in that competition, I think he will start today as be battles it out with Conor McLaughlin to see who will be Luke O'Nien's replacement.

The rest of the defence picks itself, with Bailey Wright and Tom Flanagan our only fit centre halves, and Callum McFadzean the only left back until Hume returns from injury.


RM: Diamond CM: Leadbitter CM: Scowen LM: McGeady

I'm well aware that I keep predicting Lee Johnson to switch to 4-4-2, but even though I think there's a decent chance we continue with a three man midfield, I struggle to predict which of the attacking players Johnson could leave out. Here, our new manager's flexibility should allow him to change shape to accommodate our midfield strengths; which certainly isn't a Power-Leadbitter-Scowen trio.

Jack Diamond was the Man of the Match at Boundary Park and his directness allowed Sunderland to cross from much better positions. His end product was also impressive for a young player, something demonstrated by his assist for Chris Maguire's equaliser.

In midfield, one of Power, Leadbitter or Scowen has to go and you could make a decent argument for any of these three players. Josh Scowen is probably the most likely to start given he scored during midweek, and I've chosen to pair him with a deeper midfielder in the form of Grant Leadbitter. However, as we saw at the end of last season this is a role Power can also play in a two-man midfield.

On the left, Aiden McGeady was brought in from the cold last weekend and then rested for the majority of the midweek game. All of this points to the man who was Sunderland's talisman under Jack Ross finding himself back in the starting line up this afternoon.

Oldham Athletic v Sunderland: Papa John’s Trophy Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

ST: Grigg ST: Maguire

Up front, like Josh Scowen, Chris Maguire has probably done enough to secure himself another start by scoring against Oldham in the Papa John's Trophy. The need to include Maguire, Diamond and McGeady is what prompted me to lose one of the three midfielders, and since Maguire's goal came from a poacher's effort at the back post he is the most likely to switch to a central striking time for McGeady to return down the left wing.

Alongside him, Danny Graham is a waste of time and space and the less said about this signing the better. Charlie Wyke on the other hand has been our top scorer so far this season, but is yet to make a start since coming back from injury. Therefore, it seems that Will Grigg will get the nod, and a decent run of games it likely to be needed if he is to contribute to a more free-scoring Sunderland side.