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Hull City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Starting XI: Four changes predicted to Sunderland’s team for today’s game versus Blackburn

With Ross Stewart making a goalscoring comeback from the bench, does he come straight back into the team for today? We think he will – and there could be three other changes, too.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

It’s difficult to predict Tony Mowbray’s team selections – he’s loyal to players when you think they need a rest, and then leaves players such as Patrick Roberts sidelined after extolling his virtues constantly. Danny Batth and Elliot Embleton picked up injuries last time out at Hull – hopefully, Batth’s is less serious than Embleton’s – and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the former Wolves defender sidelined today, which would be a major blow.

So, who do we think will play from the off today?

Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Didn’t have much chance with Hull’s equaliser last week and will start between the sticks today.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship
Patto in action last time out at the Stadium of Light
Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images

Defenders: Lynden Gooch, Dan Ballard, Luke O’Nien, Dennis Cirkin

If Batth is fit, I’d not be surprised to see us go to a back three, but I feel it’d be a huge risk if there’s any injury hangover and with Ballard back, it’d be an unnecessary one at that. Luke O’Nien will likely move over to the left side of central defence with Ballard coming in from the start, while I would hope Cirkin will come in ahead of Alese. I really like Alese as a player – in fact there’s an argument that a defence of O’Nien, Ballard and Alese would work well – but if we stick with a four I’d like to see Cirkin back in his proper position.

Sunderland v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship
Will Cirkin get back into the team today?
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Midfield: Corry Evans, Dan Neil

Mowbray’s hinted Michut could come into contention during the festive period, and of course, Ba and Matete are waiting in the wings too, but the manager seems to like Dan Neil as much as he likes Jaffa Cakes and other assorted chocolate-based treats, so I’d be surprised if there was any change here.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light
Evans will line up against his former club
Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Attacking midfield: Patrick Roberts, Amad, Jack Clarke

Alex Pritchard is out as is Embleton, meaning the door surely reopens for Patrick Roberts to come back into the team on the right of the attack. I suspect Amad will move inside where there’s possibly less onus on him defensively, while Clarke will keep his place on the left. He’s going through a dip in form at present, but he’s too good for that to last for too long.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship
Roberts should come back into the team today
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Striker: Ross Stewart

In his cameo at Hull, Ross Stewart showed everyone what we’ve been missing. He’s class, he’s fit, get him back into the team. And get him tied down to a new contract!


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