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Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 2nd Leg

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Starting XI: Who will be lining up for the lads at Wembley this afternoon?

It’s now or never... so who’ll be in the starting XI for today’s do-or-die clash against Wycombe?

Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Alex Neil’s never afraid to spring a surprise and make a selection decision or two that raises a few eyebrows, making it challenging to second guess his starting XI every week. Fair play to him, his selections have worked more often than not, and hopefully, it will this afternoon.

Neil took the unusual step of sticking with his starting XI against Sheff Wed, despite us entering the final stages in need of a goal, and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him name an unchanged team today.

The biggest decision he has to make surrounds Nathan Broadhead – we don’t know his fitness, and the biggest question is who he’d come into the team for.


Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Patterson’s run in the team started at Adams Park back in January, and while he looked a little shaky in that game, he’s come on leaps and bounds in the months that have followed. That said, he needs to stand up to the physical threat that Wycombe will pose – on a couple of occasions in both games against Wednesday, he was caught in two minds.

Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Patterson celebrates getting to Wembley with fellow academy graduate Dan Neil
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Defence: Lynden Gooch, Bailey Wright, Danny Batth, Dennis Cirkin

I suspect it’ll be as you were at the back – Lynden Gooch has been in great form while Bailey Wright and Danny Batth have formed a really good partnership in the centre.

Dennis Cirkin will continue on the left – he’s shown a few glimpses of potential this season, and it’d be great to see him turn in a composed display today.

Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One - Play Off - Semi Final - Second Leg - Hillsborough
Bailey Wright has been rock solid alongside Danny Batth in recent weeks
Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images

Midfield: Corry Evans, Luke O’Nien

There’s a school of thought that our best way around Wycombe might be to add Elliot Embleton’s guile, Dan Neil’s passing range or Jay Matete’s energy into the mix today, and I can see the logic (I’d seriously consider starting Embleton in centre mid), but I can’t see us looking any further than Corry Evans and Luke O’Nien. Evans has been a revelation over recent weeks, while O’Nien can give as good as he gets against rough house tactics.

It’ll be interesting today with VAR being used – Wycombe would have been down to 10 early on in the Stadium of Light game, and we would have had a couple of pens at Adams Park, but I just hope O’Nien doesn’t get dragged into that side of the game too much.

He can grab shirts a bit too much when we are defending corners, and he needs to be smart about that today.

Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Evans has really stepped up since Alex Neil’s arrival, and is a critical part of the team
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Attackers: Patrick Roberts, Alex Pritchard, Jack Clarke

I think this trio have huge potential, and they wouldn’t look out of place in the Championship. Wembley should suit these three – it’ll be a good surface, and there’ll be plenty of space for them to play in.

Clarke’s been frustrating sometimes during his spell here, but how he carried the ball up the pitch against Wednesday augurs well for today.

Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Clarke was excellent in the second leg at Hillsborough
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Striker: Ross Stewart

Who else? Well, maybe Nathan Broadhead, but there’s no way he’s getting in as the lone striker ahead of Stewart.

The Scotsman had one of his best games of the season away at Wycombe, and if he can pull another display like that out of the bag today, then we’ve got a bloody good chance of being the ones celebrating at full time.

Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Broadhead and Stewart – will the Welshman start or will he be utilised from the bench?
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images
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