After suffering their first defeat since the middle of February at the weekend, Sunderland will be glad to see a return to midweek action in order to quickly get over the disappointment of Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Charlton Athletic.
We all knew that a result like Saturday’s was going to come sooner or later, and with this game being Sunderland’s game in hand against the two teams above them then a win would put Lee Johnson’s side right back in the promotion race especially with Hull City still to play.
On the injury front, Denver Hume has made a couple of substitute appearances and must be getting close to a start whilst Bailey Wright is also nearing a return, albeit one which is unlikely to come this evening. Tom Flanagan and Jake Vokins are slightly further away from a return but should still feature between now and the end of the season unlike Jordan Willis and Arbenit Xhemajli who both remain out.
Here’s how I think the Lads will line up.
After Sunderland’s first defeat in a while, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number of chances for tonight’s game but one of those is unlikely to be in goal.
Lee Burge reminded us why he is a league one goalkeeper, albeit a rather good one, by being soft for the away side’s opening goal.
Despite this, he didn’t make any major errors, and will continue between the sticks until the end of the campaign even if we’re looking for an upgrade in the summer.
RB: McLaughlin CB: Sanderson CB: O’Nien LB: Hume
Max Power reminded us that he’s been playing out of position at full back after been given the runaround by Charlton’s winger on Saturday. With Sunderland’s midfield also having a poor game at the weekend, I think Conor McLaughlin will come back into the side to shore up the right-side of Sunderland’s defence.
On the opposite flank, Denver Hume should be ready to start tonight and although Callum McFadzean was good at the weekend tonight seems like a good time to put Hume back into the side ready for the run in.
With Bailey Wright failing to make the bench at the weekend, its unlikely that he will start tonight, meaning Dion Sanderson and Luke O’Nien will continue at the centre of defence.
CM: Scowen CM: Power
After a run of good form which coincided with Sunderland’s own good run, Carl Winchester had a difficult afternoon on Saturday and it is likely he will be the man to miss out so that Max Power can return to his natural position.
Alongside Sunderland’s captain, Josh Scowen grabbed his side’s only goal of the game against Charlton and that should be good enough for him to keep his place ahead of both Winchester and Grant Leadbitter.
RM: Jones AM: O’Brien LM: McGeady
Jordan Jones was a surprising absentee from Saturday’s game and considering the recent form of both he and his replacement Gooch, its likely that Jones was left out due to fitness and that should mean he will return for tonight’s game.
In the central position, Chris Maguire is the only alternative to Aiden O’Brien - if Gooch is to drop out of the side - and since he didn’t even make the squad against Charlton its likely that the former Millwall man will continue in the role behind the striker for tonight’s game.
On the left, Aiden McGeady is certain to start and has continued to create chances for Sunderland’s forwards despite the downturn in Charlie Wyke’s form.
Although Charlie Wyke missed a couple of good chances at the weekend, he did look more likely to score than in previous games.
For that reason, he should start again tonight and a couple of goals would be a great way to break a lull in form.