York City v Sunderland AFC
Kick Off: 19:00hrs
Venue: York Community Stadium - YO32 9AF
Lee Johnson’s Sunderland take the short 77 mile trip down the A19 to York this evening, hoping to pick up another pre-season win on the road as we build-up to the start of our fourth consecutive League One campaign.
Whilst off the pitch some fans are panicking about the apparent lack of transfer activity at the Stadium of Light, the manager and players seem to be breezing through pre-season, and all appears to be going fairly well.
The introduction of a large volume of younger players into the squad this summer has no doubt added an element of energetic competition, and with further additions to come, Johnson’s been able to run the rule over several players who may just impress him enough to be considered a part of the wider first-team squad.
And with that in mind, tonight’s game affords Johnson with some flexibility.
The Minstermen, managed by former toon defender Steve Watson, are hoping to gain promotion from the National League North at the fourth time of asking, and with a fantastic new stadium to play in, they’re hoping it can be the springboard for further success.
York might play in the sixth tier of English football, but they’re no mugs - as demonstrated by the fact they beat a strong Newcastle United team on Saturday.
I’ll save my laughs for the time being though, because I could end up with egg on my face.
Still, it’s another game and another opportunity to get some much-needed minutes into the legs of our players, and how Johnson approaches the game will be interesting.
Will he mix the side up again, given most of those that started at Hearts on Saturday lasted well into the second half, or will he pick a strong side that will resemble something like what we’re going to see when the season starts?
It’s anyone’s guess, really. And to be honest, I’m not really bothered who plays.
It’s probably safe to assume that Corry Evans will start - the former Manchester United midfielder came on towards the end in Edinburgh, and after a few days of extra training, they’ll be hoping to step it up for him and improve his fitness.
It’ll be interesting to see if Luke O’Nien and/or Bailey Wright feature, as both men missed the game at the weekend through injury. Wright’s apparently been told he can leave, and has a club lined up, but for the time being he’s still our player and we have a duty to keep him sharp.
There’s also Alex Pritchard, who tested positive for COVID. Whether he’ll even be back in time for the game on Saturday isn’t known, but I’m eager to see him play and see what he’s all about. It must be terribly frustrating to begin in this way at a new club.
I’m always the first one to point out that pre-season results don’t really matter, and they’re all about getting the players fitter and sharper, but winning is still a nice habit to get into, and I’m sure privately that Lee Johnson will be conveying that message to his squad.
Follow The Game
York City are streaming the match free of charge from 18:45hrs on their YouTube channel, which can be found by clicking here, but have asked that if anyone fancies donating towards a virtual ticket to help cover the cost of broadcasting the game, they can sling a few quid in the pot through their official website here.
Fair enough, I guess - I’m just glad I can watch the match!
We’ll also be providing live commentary of the game over on the Roker Report Twitter account, and after the match we’ll have our usual Player Ratings and analysis here on RokerReport.com!