The big Scot is statistically on his best run of form on Wearside, keeping four clean sheets in the last four games.
It might have taken him a while, but it appears he’s managed to recapture last season’s form and has cemented his place as Sunderland’s number one goalkeeper.
CB: Willis CB: Wright CB: Lynch
Phil Parkinson sprung a surprise in midweek, opting to bring in new signing Bailey Wright for his debut and dropping Alim Ozturk from the squad. It was maybe harsh on Ozturk, but Wright looked assured, confident and impressive in the back three and should retain his place.
On the right hand side of the three, Jordan Willis is one of the first names on the team sheet and will be vital this afternoon, whereas Joel Lynch should be allowed to continue after helping Sunderland to another clean sheet.
RM: O’Nien CM: Scowen CM: Power LM: Hume
Sunderland’s midfield - and George Dobson in particular - looked tired on Wednesday night, so we are likely to see a change in the centre of the park.
New signing Josh Scowen arrived from QPR during the week to glowing reviews and may be seen as the best option in a game that will require strength and character. Alongside him will be captain Max Power, who has shone brightly these past few weeks.
On the flanks, Luke O’Nien will continue on the right, whereas Denver Hume is a sure-fire choice on the left.
RAM: Gooch LAM: Maguire
Lynden Gooch and Chris Maguire were quiet in the games against Doncaster and Tranmere, but hopefully they were just conserving energy for this afternoon’s mammoth clash.
Gooch has shown over the past month that he is Sunderland’s match winner, so having him in the side this afternoon is absolutely essential. An away game at Fratton Park after our last visit is tailor made for a Chris Maguire afternoon of shithousery.
However, if either are off form, new signing Antoine Semenyo will be raring to go on the bench.
CF: Charlie Wyke
I had thought Kyle Lafferty would have started in the last two games, but big Charles just keeps coming up with the goods. He didn’t have the strongest of games against Tranmere, but he nodded in our winner and that’s exactly what he’s paid to do.
Wyke will be given the opportunity to add to his tally this afternoon, and will be hoping for a massive performance to edge Sunderland closer to those automatic promotion spots.