GK: Jon McLaughlin
McLaughlin’s long run of clean sheets shows no sign of ceasing, although tonight’s game against Fleetwood Town will certainly be more of a test than Bristol Rovers were on Saturday. There’s still nothing happening on the contract front, but it doesn’t seem to be hindering him on the pitch as he racks up clean sheet after clean sheet.
He was so untroubled at the weekend that he was seen stretching out his calf muscles during the second-half due because of the lack of movement. If that doesn’t tell you how solid we look right now, then what does?
CB: Willis CB: Ozturk CB: Flanagan
Whilst undoubtedly Bailey Wright is going to be a big miss until the end of the season, Alim Ozturk slotted into the defence on Saturday perfectly and didn’t do much wrong.
Jordan Willis continues to impress in his centre back/right back/right wing role that he seems to have adopted under the tutelage of Phil Parkinson and, if Sunderland failed to get promoted this season, you have to worry if he’ll be picked up by a Championship club. He really has been THAT good.
The same can be said for Tom Flanagan at the moment, who looks a completely different player to the calamity he so often was at the beginning of the season. Fair play to him for turning his season around.
RM: O’Nien CM: Dobson CM: Power LM: Hume
It was nice to see Luke O’Nien back on the scoresheet at the weekend, despite it coming with a huge slice of luck. O’Nien’s work-rate never seems to cease and his ability on the ball continues to improve weekly. He’s found his best position and everyone is benefiting from it.
Denver Hume has been a little off form of late and many are surprised that Declan John hasn’t even been able to make the bench, but it can’t be denied that even when he isn’t at his best, Hume’s movement helps the team massively and Parkinson will likely continue to give him the nod tonight.
George Dobson had perhaps his best game in a Sunderland shirt against the Gas, turning in a performance full of endeavour, composure and will to win - Josh Scowen is going to struggle to dislodge him in the midfield at this rate.
Alongside him Max Power has most likely cemented himself as our best midfielder, and has taken on the captain’s role superbly. These two will 100% start in midfield.
RAM: Gooch LAM: Maguire
Chris Maguire’s improvement under Parky has shown no signs of relenting, and his performance on Saturday felt like a culmination of the work both he and the manager have put in since December. He’s absolutely on fire and is on course to take our player of the year gong.
Gooch, on the other hand, is a strange one - he’s actually not playing as well as he perhaps could over the past few games yet still seems to be in amongst the goals, which speaks volumes of the quality and attitude of the little American midfielder.
CF: Charlie Wyke
Wyke got some stick on Saturday before his goal, and perhaps rightly so, as he seemed to struggle with the physically of the Bristol Rovers defence, but no one was more delighted than me to see him finish superbly for our second goal of the game.
There’s been a big call for Kyle Lafferty to start games ahead of him but Charlie somehow seems to come up with the goods just as patience begins to wear a little thin.
In truth, he played a huge part in our first goal, scored the second and could easily have fired the Lads into the lead in the first period if his shot was two inches lower.
Well played Charlie. More of this tonight please.