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How should Lee Johnson approach the Lincoln game on Tuesday after being humbled by Pompey?

Stick yourself in Johnson’s shoes - after Saturday’s twatting, and the fact we have no game next weekend, how would you approach this Lincoln game on Tuesday in terms of preparation, attitude and selection?

Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Phil West says...

First and foremost, I’d expect Lee Johnson to be looking for a much more focused and professional attitude from the team when we play Lincoln.

The fact that we don’t have a league game for two weeks is not ideal, but I actually think that Johnson will be viewing the match as an excellent opportunity to begin to draw a line under Saturday’s result as we build towards Gillingham.

Against Portsmouth, we looked bereft of any real fight in what was a very tough environment, and that is something that I’m sure he won’t tolerate on Tuesday night.

It might be a reasonably meaningless game in the eyes of many fans, but it’s an excellent opportunity for the team to get Saturday’s result out of their system.

They’ll all be hurting and will doubtless be eager to turn in a much better performance. He’ll demand that they restore some pride and repay the fans for the Fratton Park debacle, and I’m confident the players will do it.

I also think that changes in team selection are inevitable. I’d expect the likes of Lee Burge & Frederik Alves, and maybe even Ellis Taylor to come into the equation, and Dan Neil may well return also. These are the kinds of games where squad depth can be fully utilised, and there’s no doubt that even a much-changed starting eleven ought to be strong enough to see us home.

The next two weeks are going to be a good test of the new culture and the higher standards that have clearly been implemented at the club. Johnson won’t panic and dismantle what he’s put in place, and nor will the players.

If we can secure a victory against Lincoln, we can at least head into the international break with a victory in our back pocket, and with some confidence restored.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Last time out against Lincoln...
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says...

I didn’t see the Pompey game, and I can’t drag myself to watch the highlights (I’ve never been a big fan of water sports), but one thing I am sure Lee will want to see is the team show the rest of the league and the fans that Saturday away was simply a blip. A bad day at the office. A day to forget.

He will want to see the will to win that we sorely lacked back with interest, and it is likely there will be mass changes and a chance to shine for a lot of fringe players, after a number of the first eleven at Fratton Park didn’t really show up. Shirts will be up for grabs and others will be in them for the cup match, hoping to cement their chances of keeping the starting berth for the next league encounter.

Lee will also want the team to demonstrate that the good football they can play (especially at home) was missing due to the pitch which didn’t deserve a game to be played on it, rather than due to the opposition, or the bad attitude and lack of application several players took down south.

Every cloud has a silver lining and I would rather we learn a lesson early and grow from it than take a hit like that around Easter, when way bigger things are up close and very much at stake.

Get the loss out of your heads and let’s see another masterpiece away at Lincoln lads.

We’ve won 4-0 there before not too long ago. That’ll do!

Sunderland v Cheltenham Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

SAFCMerch says...

I really hope that we approach this game the same way as we were intending prior to Saturday - yes, lessons need to be learned from the defeat to Portsmouth but I don't want to see any knee-jerk reactions. We have a long-term plan in place, and for that to work, we need to stick to it, despite the odd bump along the way.

If this game had already been earmarked as an opportunity to give fringe or u23s players a chance then that should stay the case. It would not be fair to hinder the progress of our youth prospects just because of a bit of a freak result and if the management overreacted it could possibly blur some of the messages they have been putting across to the squad.

Lee Johnson has said before about how we need to stay measured in our approach, by not getting too cocky after a win and not getting too down our a defeat and I fully agree.

Overall we’ve done really well this season but perhaps the weekend showed that one or two need a rest. We’ve got plenty of other lads champing at the bit so hopefully, they will take their chance with both hands - the squad has reacted well to knockbacks so far, and if the replacements come up with the goods against Lincoln, it will help us all move on.

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says...

In my mind, Johnson has to get a reaction from his players on Tuesday in order to carry momentum through into our next league fixture - however, we simply can’t risk injuries to some of our most influential players.

Because of this, I think Johnson has to use a mix of rotation, affording key players like Winchester and Stewart a rest, whilst asking players such as Wright, O’Nien and O’Brien to play for their shirts (with those three being comfortably the worst players on the field against Portsmouth). A bit of rotation also allows players to stake a claim, regain some fitness and in the case of players like Neil, showcase their talent should any of the players at risk of losing their starting slot fall short of the mark.

Keeping competition within the squad is key and Tuesday provides the perfect opportunity to allow that to thrive as well as allowing for players to ’toughen up’ to playing away from the comforts of the Stadium of Light.

In short, Tuesday’s game should fall into one of two categories for anyone selected - they’re either playing to keep their shirt or they’re playing to take someone’s place.

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