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Sunderland vs Ipswich Town Sky Bet League 1

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Starting XI: Is this the line up Lee Johnson will name against Shrewsbury tonight?

We don’t think Sunderland will make too many changes tonight – but there could be a big tactical reshuffle. What team would you pick?

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After Saturday’s performance, and news of Dennis Cirkin’s enforced spell on the sidelines, Lee Johnson’s got some big calls to make when it comes to tonight’s team. Given our lack of full backs, and the way we’ve struggled against teams deploying wing backs, I suspect we’ll go with three at the back, matching up Shrewsbury as we look for back to back wins.

While we lined up in a 4-4-2 from the start on Saturday, the players who started the game are capable of shuffling around to play as a back three, so I’m predicting we’ll see one, injury-enforced change tonight.


Goalkeeper: Thorben Hoffmann

Hoffmann’s triple save in the first half was critical for us, and it’s those big moments he’s been brought in for. He also showed some decent command of his box too – he came out in the first half and absolutely clattered everything in front of him, which was nice to see. He’ll certainly keep his place tonight, barring anything unforeseen happening.

Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet League One
Hoffmann was a man of the match contender on Saturday
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Defence: Tom Flanagan, Bailey Wright, Callum Doyle

Luke O’Nien was many people’s man of the match on Saturday, and it was good to see him turn in a matchwinning display. We all know he’s been battling on with a shoulder injury this season – and all credit to him for that – but reading in between the lines of the update published on SAFC.com, it may be getting to the point where he needs an operation. Therefore, I think we’ll recall Flanagan to the team to play alongside Wright and Doyle in a back three as Johnson figures out a way to cope with our left-back injury crisis.

Sunderland vs Ipswich Town Sky Bet League 1
O’Nien was man of the match for many people on Saturday – but will he miss out tonight?
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Midfield: Carl Winchester, Corry Evans, Dan Neil, Lynden Gooch

With three in defence, we’ll likely deploy Winchester in a slightly more advanced role than he has been this season as a wing back, while on the other flank, in the absence of many other options, Lynden Gooch could be asked to fill in. Gooch is a frustrating player, however, he always guarantees you workrate and tenacity. In the centre, captain Evans will be looking to have more of an impact on the game than he was able to do on Saturday, while Dan Neil will retain his place alongside him. Getting Dan Neil on the ball is crucial, we need to play through him whenever possible.

Sunderland vs Ipswich Town Sky Bet League 1
Will Gooch get a run out as a left wing back?
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Attacking midfield: Elliot Embleton

We’ve got an embarrassment of riches in the attacking midfield area, with Pritchard, Dajaku and McGeady playing important roles from the bench on Saturday. Embleton struggled to get into the game at the weekend, and his set pieces were poor, and Johnson could be tempted to start Alex Pritchard here. However, I think he’ll stick with Embleton, with the hope he can play himself into some form.

Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet League One
Embleton struggled to get into the game on Saturday but I think he’ll retain his place
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Forwards: Nathan Broadhead, Ross Stewart

While the 4-4-2 at the weekend didn’t work, we did see some nice link-up play between Stewart and Broadhead, and a benefit of playing three at the back is it enables us to go two up front. Broadhead has a lot to offer us, and I think he’ll be given another runout alongside the impressive Stewart.

Sunderland vs Ipswich Town Sky Bet League 1
Ross Stewart was unlucky not to win another two penalties on Saturday
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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