GK: Jon McLaughlin
Five clean sheets in six games for the Scottish stopper is on best run of form since he joined the club in July 2018.
Despite that, Stewart Donald is yet to sort out his contract but, thankfully for us, it doesn’t seem to be affecting his game the way it was in the first quarter of the season.
McLaughlin is the number one, and it’ll take some dramatic turn of form for Lee Burge to get a look in this season.
CB: Willis CB: Wright CB: Flanagan
The back three were hugely impressive at the weekend, and there was an argument that any one of them could have came out of the game as man of the match.
Jordan Willis is as important going forward as he is defending and is probably now the first name on the team-sheet.
After a rocky performance at Portsmouth, Bailey Wright was tough and assured against a difficult opponent in James Norwood on Saturday, so should continue in the centre of the back three.
Tom Flanagan was superb at the weekend too, and should keep his place ahead of the returning Joel Lynch.
RM: O’Nien CM: Dobson CM: Power LM: John
There were plenty calls for the introduction of Josh Scowen at the weekend, but George Dobson and Max Power were excellent and deserve to start tonight’s game.
On the right hand side, Luke O’Nien is a sure-fire choice and seems to have finally found his position in a formation that suits himself, and Sunderland.
I do think we’ll see a change on the left hand side of midfield, however. Denver Hume has looked a little tired these past few games and tonight is an opportunity to give the youngster some much needed rest, whilst also introducing a highly-regarded new signing into the fold, so I expect Declan John to be given his debut in front of the watching Stadium of Light crowd.
RAM: Gooch LAM: Maguire
Chris Maguire was right back on form at the weekend and The opportunity to be the hero again on a night under the lights at the Stadium of Light has his name written all over it.
His energy levels over the past few weeks have been impressice. Seeing him sprinting to close down defenders in injury time is something I never thought I’d witness.
Lynden Gooch very nearly took the headlines against Paul Lambert’s Ipswich with a mind-blowing run that ended in his shot cannoning back off the post and, although he was quieter than usual, he still looked dangerous.
CF: Charlie Wyke
I’ll admit that I would much rather it be Kyle Lafferty, but I think Parkinson will opt for Wyke again tonight.
I was pleased that he got the assist for the goals against Ipswich, because it’ll take away the attention from his horrendous miss 20 minutes earlier. Hopefully that assist will give him the confidence to go into tonight’s game knowing he can get a goal of his own.
Whilst he’s never been prolific on Wearside, he has managed to score every time he’s faced Rochdale, so I think he’ll be given the nod ahead of Lafferty tonight.