GK: Lee Burge
With two cup games in the first week of the competitive season to bridge the gap between pre-season and the start of League One, Parkinson is likely to field two completely different sides.
Because the game against Aston Villa’s under-21s likely to see Sunderland’s second string side fielded, Lee Burge can comfortably be predicted to start in goal after beating Patterson and Matthews to the number one shirt during pre-season.
CB: Willis CB: Wright CB: Flanagan RWB: O’Nien LWB: Hume
Just like the goalkeeper, Sunderland’s back five is pretty straight forward to predict. Jordan Willis was the only slight doubt for this game after coming off at half time against Harrogate, but Parkinson has since confirmed this was merely a precaution and that the former Coventry defender is fit for the season’s opener.
I don’t expect any surprises with the rest of the back five – Bailey Wright, Tom Flanagan, Luke O’Nien and Denver Hume are all comfortably better than their understudies, something that could hint at a need for reinforcements in this area before the end of the transfer window.
CM: Josh Scowen CM: Max Power
The main change to Sunderland’s starting eleven over the summer has been the introduction of Josh Scowen into a starting role in midfield alongside Max Power. Like Willis, Scowen came off with a knock last weekend but Parkinson has also confirmed the former QPR midfielder is in the frame to start against Hull City.
Scowen’s introduction has added a different element to Sunderland’s midfield. He offers more in an attacking sense than George Dobson, something that allows Max Power to retain his role protecting the back four and helping progress the ball from the defence.
AM: Lynden Gooch AM: Chris Maguire
Although Dan Neil made an impact from the bench to set up Will Grigg against Harrogate, and has made a positive impact this pre-season, Sunderland’s first choice attacking midfielders remain Chris Maguire and Lynden Gooch. They combined to score more than 20 goals last season, and no matter who starts up front it is likely that the two ‘number tens’ will be Sunderland’s most consistent goalscorers again this term.
ST: Will Grigg
Despite new signing Aiden O’Brien being able to play through the middle, the signs from pre-season seem to be that Phil Parkinson will choose between either Will Grigg or Charlie Wyke for his starting striker.
While both forwards have scored during pre-season, I think there is a decent chance that Grigg could get the opportunity to demonstrate his worth in a competitive fixture and to show that he can thrive alongside Sunderland’s preferred creative players Maguire and Gooch.