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.
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.
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.
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.
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.