Lee Johnson hinted there were a few players who could come back into contention this weekend after injuries and Covid reduced us to bare bones over recent weeks.
The identity of those players who may be available for selection is unknown, but here’s how we think we could line up today.
Goalkeeper: Thorben Hoffmann
While Johnson said Hoffmann and Burge were still doubts, I think he was playing his cards close to his chest – and given we’ve let a goalkeeper (McIntyre) leave on loan this week it suggests our first choice keepers are back.
If fit, Hoffmann will start and, while Patterson didn’t necessarily do anything wrong in his two appearances, there was an evident gulf in class from what we’ve become accustomed to since Hoffmann’s arrival. His presence today would be a huge boost for all.
Defence: Bailey Wright, Tom Flanagan, Callum Doyle, Dennis Cirkin
Our defence has struggled over the past two games, which is somewhat surprising given we’ve been able to select the four who have played the majority of the season.
Wright’s absence forced us to move away from the more lopsided defence we were using, and I suspect we’ll revert back to this as soon as possible. If Wright’s fit, he’ll be straight back into the team – which will be most welcome, especially given Winchester’s suspension.
Alongside him will likely be Flanagan – who’s not been as solid without Bailey Wright there – Doyle, who was fortunate not to receive a red for his late challenge, and Dennis Cirkin – unless the knock he picked up against Lincoln rules him out of today’s fixture.
Midfield: Elliot Embleton, Dan Neil
With Corry Evans out injured and Carl Winchester suspended after his red card against Lincoln, we’re scratching around for central midfielders.
Fred Alves may have been a consideration, but he’s returned to West Ham, so it seems the only real option we have is to drop Embleton back into the middle alongside Dan Neil.
This concerns me, as this partnership lacks a defensive element to it, but needs must.
Attack: Leon Dajaku, Alex Pritchard, Ross Stewart, Lynden Gooch
Another player who could be back from his Covid-enforced absence is Leon Dajaku, who’d been very effective over recent weeks and if fit you’d imagine he’d come back into the team for Jack Diamond, who’s struggled to make an impression in his couple of outings.
Alex Pritchard was apparently 50/50 for Tuesday’s game with Lincoln, and was withdrawn early, so hopefully he’s fit enough to line up today.
Ross Stewart picks himself, while by virtue of Embleton dropping deeper it’s likely Gooch will line up in the starting XI. Gooch had performed well at full back but has once again struggled in a more attacking position, so it’ll be nice to see a good, consistent performance from him today.