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Rangers v Sunderland - Pre-Season Friendly

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Starting XI: What will the Sunderland team be for today’s Roma clash?

After our pre-season got off to an abortive start on Saturday, we go again this morning as we take on Roma at the unusual time of 11am.

Photo by Gualter Fatia/SNS Group via Getty Images

Well, that was a bit of a false start really wasn’t it? We looked excellent against Rangers for 45 minutes – quick, sharp play with the ball at our feet, and excellent high press and a 1-0 lead to boot. Only for the lights to go out.

From a fitness perspective, it was far from ideal, but it likely means we’ll see a number of the same players begin this morning’s game.


Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Patterson didn’t have much to do on Saturday, but what he did do was done with assurance. Given he’s still our only real option in goal he’ll start.

Sunderland Pre-Season Training Camp Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Defenders: Trai Hume, Daniel Ballard, Danny Batth, Dennis Cirkin

I speculated on Saturday about Niall Huggins’ availability, hoping he’d be in line for some action – but Trai Hume’s selection, plus Alex Neil’s comments about Huggins, suggest it’ll be a while before we see the former Leeds man in action.

Luke O’Nien lined up alongside Ballard on Saturday, which was interesting in itself – does Neil see O’Nien as having more to offer in defence? If Saturday’s goalscorer is in the back line again today it would suggest he does. But I think we’ll see one of the other lads – probably Danny Batth given Bailey Wright’s adventures in Oz – given a runout today.

Sunderland v Rangers: Pre-Season Friendly
Ballard impressed on Saturday - particularly his Moore-esque tackle!
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Midfield: Corry Evans, Dan Neil

It’ll be interesting to see who lines up in the centre of the park. Given we’re playing such a strong side I imagine we’ll go with the skipper, Corry Evans, in there.

Dan Neil started against Rangers and was a bit off the pace – but I wouldn’t be surprised if he got the first half at least today.

Sunderland v Rangers: Pre-Season Friendly
Evans had a decent half against Rangers.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Attackers: Patrick Roberts, Alex Pritchard, Jack Clarke

I would imagine that Jack Clarke will get at least an hour today just so he gets straight back into the swing of things, and alongside him in those attacking roles could be Roberts and Pritchard - both of whom looked sharp against Rangers.

The likes of Gooch, Dajaku and Diamond will likely make second-half appearances. One thing to watch may be Clarke being given a run through the centre – when he came in January Speakmann spoke of him being able to play through the middle too, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we tried him there, particularly given the lack of central striking options we have.

Sunderland Announce Permanent Signing of Jack Clarke
Jack. Is. Back!
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Striker: Ross Stewart

I was a bit surprised to see Stewart start on Saturday but he’s nailed on to start today. It’ll be a great test for him, and he’s got the added incentive of proving Steve Clarke wrong against a better class of defender, given the Scotland manager failed to give him anything resembling a chance during the summer internationals.

Rangers v Sunderland - Pre-Season Friendly
Stewart eased his way back into action on Saturday
Photo by Gualter Fatia/SNS Group via Getty Images

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