Tony Mowbray’s in something of an unusual position in that he’s taken over a team that’s on the up and doing well – and he’s not going to be making too many changes too quickly.
The squad was strengthened over the past week with the arrivals of Michut, Ba and Amad, however, I think they’ll be used primarily from the bench during their first few months with us, and I certainly don’t expect them to start tonight.
Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson
While he had a relatively quiet game at home to Rotherham, he did pull off a good save or two to protect his clean sheet. It’s a bit few month’s for Patterson – if Mannone had been able to agree a deal he’d have had some stiff competition, but as it is he’s our clear number one now. Fingers crossed he keeps fit...
Defence: Luke O’Nien, Danny Batth, Dennis Cirkin
This trio are really establishing themselves as a solid back line, and in some respects, makes it difficult for Mowbray to change formation too much. Cirkin is developing well and really suits this position, while it’s O’Nien’s strongest place in the team, too. Between them, Batth is showing real leadership and is a solid defender at this level.
Midfield: Lynden Gooch, Corry Evans, Dan Neil, Alex Pritchard, Jack Clarke
Barring any injury concerns, it should be the same again in midfield, with Gooch and Clarke taking up those wing-back roles. For me, Gooch has quietly been a revelation this season, and Clarke has been outstanding, too. While neither are natural defenders, they put a shift in going backwards, and having more space to attack into really seems to suit them. In the centre, it’ll be Corry Evans protecting Dan Neil and Alex Pritchard.
Attackers: Ellis Simms, Ross Stewart
The biggest question mark I’d have regarding tonight’s lineup would be Simms, who, after a bright start, has gone off the boil a bit. But I think it’s too early to bring in one of the new lads – feasibly you could push Pritchard further forward and bring Roberts in, but I think Simms will retain his place in the lineup alongside Ross Stewart.