It wasn’t the perfect performance on Tuesday night, but it was certainly impressive – and it was hugely pleasing to see the attacking quartet all net. Given the injuries the team has at present, Lee Johnson doesn’t have much wriggle room, and it could be same again for today’s clash with Plymouth.
Goalkeeper: Thorben Hoffmann
Hoffmann didn’t have a great deal to do in terms of saves on Tuesday, but his distribution was superb – in fact, he didn’t play the ball over the halfway line all game and had the highest pass completion percentage of a keeper this season. He’s growing in stature and he’ll be hoping for another clean sheet this afternoon.
Defence: Bailey Wright, Tom Flanagan, Callum Doyle, Lynden Gooch
Both Lynden Gooch and Bailey Wright did tremendously well at fullback on Tuesday night – Gooch wasn’t tested a great deal defensively, but his attacking work was superb. He’s such an asset when he’s on his game, and attacking from a deeper starting position seems to suit him. Bailey Wright’s been surprisingly composed at full back, and looks a better footballer than I certainly have given him credit for at centre back. In the middle, Flanagan and Doyle will continue.
Midfield: Carl Winchester, Dan Neil
Again, it’s an as-you-were in the middle of the park. Winchester’s really establishing himself in this position and is showing good leadership. Ideally, Dan Neil would probably have been given a break by now – he’s not looked at his best in the past few games, but needs must at present.
Attacking midfield: Leon Dajaku, Alex Pritchard, Nathan Broadhead
Some of the criticism certain Sunderland players have come in for this season has been downright bizarre – Leon Dajaku, playing out of position, being the latest. He showed on Tuesday just what he can bring to the party going forward, and is already our second top scorer. He’s a young player, playing his first season of proper football, and doing so in a foreign country... he’s going to have ups and downs, that’s what developing players do. Patience! Alongside him in the attacking positions, Pritchard and Broadhead are really starting to show their class, and as a combination this front four look incredibly threatening.
Striker: Ross Stewart
Great to see him back on the scoresheet on Tuesday, after some excellent man-management from Lee Johnson. He should have had at least one more, but hopefully his midweek strike will set the goal machine off again.