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Sunderland Announce Permanent Signing of Jack Clarke

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Starting XI: Will Jack Clarke get a pre-season run-out up front when we take on Bradford tonight?

Alex Neil raised some concern about the lack of depth up front after Saturday’s win over Dundee United. Will we see that reflected in his selection tonight?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

It was pleasing to see another solid performance and result from Saturday’s game at Dundee United, and it was interesting to note the lack of substitutions in the game, with only two subs made during the 90 minutes. One of the starters replaced was Bailey Wright, in his first run out of the pre-season, and the other was Ross Stewart, whose every physical encounter must have Alex Neil wincing at present, given the lack of striking options we currently have.

We’ve been keeping a track of the number of minutes people have played during pre-season so far, and it’s surprising to see Dajaku so high up the list, while the likes of O’Nien, Matete, Batth, and others will probably see some action tonight.

I did speculate before Saturday’s game that we might see a change in formation to a back three, however the fact we’ve gone into each game with a four suggests to me that what we heard was Neil’s preferred system before he was appointed is set to stay. (Watch us line up with a back three tonight now I’ve said that!)

Goalkeeper: Adam Richardson

Patterson’s clearly going to start the season as first choice, but as well as managing his fitness we need to give some other people some game time, just in case Patterson’s hit by injury before another keeper comes in. Adam Richardson’s highly rated, has just signed a pro-deal, and could be ahead of Jacob Carney in the pecking order.

Defence: Carl Winchester, Bailey Wright, Danny Batth, Aji Alese

It’s really about game time here. I don’t think we’ll see much of Winchester at right-back this season, but he’ll probably play there tonight to get some fitness. Bailey Wright could continue his pre-season return to the team by starting tonight – but if he does, don’t be surprised to see him just play 45. Danny Batth has only played once in pre-season so far, so I would think he’ll get a game tonight – it’ll also give Richardson some experienced protection, too. Dennis Cirkin could do with sitting this one out. He’s started every game so far, which is what happens when you only have one left back in the squad. Alese could play there – he’s left-footed and has been used there on occasion. Really, we don’t have too many choices.

Dundee United v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly
Alese made his first appearance in red and white stripes on Saturday from the bench. Will he start tonight?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Midfield: Jay Matete, Luke O’Nien

After the floodlight failure against Rangers and his forced substitution against Roma, you’d think O’Nien will be back in the starting XI tonight, probably alongside Jay Matete, given both Dan Neil and Corry Evans played the full game against Dundee United.

Sunderland v AS Roma - Pre-Season Friendly
Matete played the full 90 against Roma. Will be be back in the starting XI tonight?
Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Attackers: Lynden Gooch, Elliot Embleton, Jack Diamond

We’re well stocked in this area of the field, and I think we’ll see a selection here that’s based around fitness more than anything else. Gooch will probably see more action at right back than right wing this season, but I would expect him to be given another start tonight, alongside Embleton and Diamond, who both missed out on the starting XI on Saturday.

Sunderland v AS Roma - Pre-Season Friendly
Gooch’s versatility was one of the reasons his contract was renewed in the summer
Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Striker: Jack Clarke

Alex Neil showed a bit of frustration with the lack of incoming striker activity, and Jack Diamond had a run-out up-front in the closing stages of Saturday’s game. Tonight it could be Jack Clarke’s turn. Clarke can apparently play up front, although Neil didn’t seem too keen on the idea post-match at the weekend. But we could see him here tonight, given it would be crazy to risk Ross Stewart unnecessarily.

Sunderland v AS Roma: Pre-Season Friendly
Clarke’s only appearance since rejoining the club was against Roma last Wednesday
Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images


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