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Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship

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Starting XI: Two changes predicted to the Sunderland team for today’s game versus Wigan

After our last gasp victory over Blackburn, we have another big game against Wigan Athletic. A quick turnaround plus a couple of defensive injuries gives Tony Mowbray a few selection headaches. Here’s how we think he might line up.

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After losing Danny Batth and Elliot Embleton to injury against Hull, our Boxing Day win came at the cost of knocks to full backs Lynden Gooch and Dennis Cirkin. While neither seemed too serious, it’s likely they’ll be ruled out today given the quick turnaround.

In addition, we’ve got Ross Stewart and Dan Ballard who’ve just returned from injury and probably wouldn’t be playing four games in just over a week, as well as players such as Corry Evans who have struggled to play games of such frequency.

So Tony Mowbray has a few things to ponder. Do we go all out of the win today or rest a few players with the longer term in mind? Do we replace Gooch and Cirkin like for like or move to a back five?

Given this is an eminently winnable game, I suspect we’ll go with as strong a team as possible, and worry about the Blackpool game after that.


Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

An excellent second-half save prevented us from going behind on Monday, and he also came out and claimed a good few crosses, which relieved the pressure on our defence.

Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light
Patto celebrates our winner against Blackburn
Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Defenders: Trai Hume, Dan Ballard, Bailey Wright, Luke O’Nien

Trai Hume did well when he came on on Monday, and will surely start today. The biggest selection dilemma Mowbray has is how to replace Cirkin, given Alese and Huggins are also out. I suspect if Gooch, Cirkin and Batth are ruled out – and I’d be surprised to see any of the three risked – then O’Nien would fill in at left back with Bailey Wright coming in to partner Ballard. This also gives us the option of changing easily to a back three/five should the need arise.

Stoke City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Will Bailey Wright come back into the team this evening?
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Midfield: Corry Evans, Dan Neil

Same again here, I suspect. Although I’m sure Mowbray would love to give one or both a rest, I just don’t get the sense he trusts Ba, Michut or Matete so it’ll likely be Evans and Neil. You always know what you’re going to get with the skipper, while I thought Neil had one of his better games of the season on Monday.

Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship
Dan Neil had one of his better games against Blackburn
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Attacking midfield: Patrick Roberts, Amad, Jack Clarke

Amad and Roberts were excellent on Monday, and while Clarke drifted in and out, he looked dangerous whenever he was driving at the Blackburn defence. I don’t think we’ll go two up front, so we’ll have three in here, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bennette return to the bench, either, to give Mowbray another attacking option.

Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship
Amad was a constant threat once again
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Striker: Ross Stewart

While it’d be better to ease him back into action, he’s simply got to play. He might do 60 minutes today, but I’d start him for certain today, and maybe rest him if need be against Blackpool.

Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship
How good is it to see this lad back in action?
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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