Sunderland made it three 2-1 wins in a row by beating MK Dons by that same scoreline at the weekend and, although the performance wasn’t as comprehensive as in the previous two games, Lee Johnson’s side managed to get the job done once again. Hopefully, we will see a similar result, and a more impressive scoreline, as we take on Burton tonight.
On the injury front, only long term absentees Arbenit Xhemajli and Jordan Willis are certainties to miss today’s game, but Corry Evans is a doubt after he went off on Saturday and Luke O’Nien, who missed the game at Stadium MK, is unlikely to have recovered from illness in time to feature tonight.
Here’s how I think the Lads will line up.
GK: Lee Burge
After looking like a fairly safe, if unremarkable, pair of hands for the majority of last season, Lee Burge’s recent performances have left Sunderland fans feeling slightly nervous when the ball goes near our former Coventry goalkeeper.
You get the feeling that if Anthony Patterson had looked more assured during pre-season and at Port Vale last week he’d be nearing his chance in a league game, but as things stand I’m expecting Burge to keep his place until at least the cup games later in the month.
CB: Flanagan CB: Wright CB: Doyle
With both of our first choice midfielders possibly missing for tonight’s game, combined with a physical opposition in the form of Burton Albion, I can see Lee Johnson making his first formation switch of the season and going with a three-man backline.
Tom Flanagan and Callum Doyle have played every minute in the league so far and will surely continue, and with Corry Evans missing I think Bailey Wright will be the man to start in the centre of the back three in order to provide more experience alongside some young players further forward in the team.
In time you could probably add new loan signing Fred Alves ahead of Flanagan at right centre back, but with some changes enforced I doubt Johnson will throw together a back three made of two youngsters and a still recovering Bailey Wright without his hand being forced.
RM: Gooch CM: Winchester CM: Neil LM: Cirkin
Since Sunderland’s two centre midfielders could miss this game, the two players that started the season in the full back positions will likely get their first start together in the centre of the park.
Thankfully, left back Dennis Cirkin has signed since the opening day and he will start being our only senior player in that position.
On the right, Lynden Gooch has started the season in fine form in an attacking role, and with a natural full back on the other side, his attacking instincts shouldn’t need to be curbed too much if he does line up at wing back.
RW: Embleton ST: Stewart LW: McGeady
Things couldn’t be going much better for Sunderland’s attacking players at the minute with striker Ross Stewart scoring in both league games so far, whilst Aiden McGeady and Elliot Embleton have grabbed a goal each and looked in good touch once against at the weekend.
Alex Pritchard has looked good in his limited playing time so far, and Jack Diamond is highly rated by the club, so these three will need to continue their fine form this evening if they are to keep their place in the side for the longer term.