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Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League 1

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Starting XI: It’s crunch time... who’ll make the team for this afternoon’s huge clash at Home Park?

After Friday’s late, late, late show, the lads head to Plymouth today to take on an Argyle team that have been up there all season. How will we line up this afternoon?

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

While this is our second game of the weekend, the break in games is just the same as if we were playing Saturday/Tuesday – bar a few hours, of course – so hopefully the players all pull up well after the last gasp victory on against Shrewsbury.

Second guessing Alex Neil is a tricky task, as has been proven by my incorrect team predictions for much of his time here, however I think we’ll almost see the same again today – in terms of formation, at least.

By Neil’s own admission, Corry Evans was rested on Friday so he’d be fit for today, and while some seemingly don’t like it he’s been a very important part in our recent good form.

I suspect we might be a little more pragmatic today, and I expect to see us go a little more solid at the back than we have been in recent weeks.

Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Couldn’t be blamed for either of Shrewsbury’s goals and, with Hoffmann missing through illness on Friday, Patterson will again keep his place.

Sunderland v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Defence: Carl Winchester, Danny Batth, Bailey Wright

If I was Alex Neil, I’d bring Danny Batth back into the centre of defence, and push Cirkin out to wing back. I think we’d benefit from Batth’s aerial ability and his experience, while Cirkin’s much more comfortable out wide. Any other option at left wing back is unnatural there, really, so I’d start like that – it gives us the option of moving to a back four without making a sub, too.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Midfield: Lynden Gooch, Corry Evans, Jay Matete, Elliot Embleton, Dennis Cirkin

Evans was rested with today in mind, so he’s a certainty to come back into the team – the question is, whose place does he take? Jay Matete was excellent early on in the game against Shrewsbury, so I think he’ll keep his place with Luke O’Nien dropping to the bench. Alongside them, I just don’t think you can leave Elliot Embleton out after his recent goals – while he may not be consistent over 90 minutes, we need goal threats in the team – particularly with Ross Stewart misfiring at present – and Embleton is always likely to score or create something. On the wings, Gooch will likely continue, and I’d push Cirkin up in place of Jack Clarke. I think Clarke’s struggled a bit defensively at wing back and may sit this one out.

Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Forwards: Nathan Broadhead, Ross Stewart

What can you say about Nathan Broadhead? He’s come back into form and fitness just at the right time, and is a class act. Alongside him, Ross Stewart will retain his place – he’s not scored for a while, but was unlucky against Shrewsbury and he’ll be back among the goals soon – hopefully today.

Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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