While the results against Fleetwood and Crewe were decent enough, the performances certainly weren’t – however at this stage of the season I know which I’d prefer.
Alex Neil certainly wasn’t happy with the display against Fleetwood, and opted to start the Crewe game with a similar team to the one that finished against Fleetwood – however, they failed to click from the off, too.
Dan Neil and Patrick Roberts came off the bench to good effect on Saturday and both staked strong claims to be in from the start today.
So, after a week on the training ground, who will the Sunderland boss pick this afternoon, as the lads look to exact revenge against Lincoln City?
Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson
Three clean sheets in four games for Patterson, who admittedly hasn’t had too much to do in recent matches – but what he has done, he’s done well.
Defence: Carl Winchester, Bailey Wright, Arbenit Xhemajli, Dennis Cirkin
We’ve chopped and changed between three and four at the back in recent weeks, but with Winchester at right back, it gives us the flexibility of moving to a back three if need be.
After a couple of impressive games, Arby didn’t perform too well against Fleetwood and missed out last week, but I’d not be surprised to see him back in the starting XI today alongside Wright. However, if Danny Batth is fit again, I imagine he’d come straight back in, given Neil’s preference for experience.
Midfield: Jay Matete, Luke O’Nien, Dan Neil
Dan Neil will surely come back into the team today after impressing from the bench last week. I’d hope it was in place of Corry Evans, who has continually been poor in recent weeks, but again with the Head Coach’s penchant for experience it could be the skipper retains his place.
If I was picking the team, I’d have Neil in Evans’ place, with Matete and Luke O’Nien completing a midfield trio. All three are capable of advancing with the ball, and the more advanced of the trio could easily rotate.
Forwards: Patrick Roberts, Ross Stewart, Jack Clarke
Jermain Defoe started last time out but was starved of service, while both Patrick Roberts and Leon Dajaku made strong cases for inclusion in this week’s starting XI. With no word on the fitness of Nathan Broadhead, who seemingly has hamstrings made of baccy paper, I think Jack Clarke will line up on one flank and Roberts on the other, with Ross Stewart of course keeping his place up front.