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Sunderland v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship

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Starting XI: Two changes predicted for Sunderland at Plymouth today

After a fortnight’s rest, the lads are back in action at Home Park this afternoon. This is how we think they’ll line up!

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

There was a surprise before kick-off against Birmingham when Dennis Cirkin pulled out and Triantis came into the team to partner Jenson Seelt. The suspended Dan Ballard went off on international duty and aggravated a hamstring injury that he came off with at Swansea.

Whether we risk him today or not depends on how he pulled up yesterday, but it’ll be touch and go as to whether we see him today.

Other than that, it looks pretty straightforward for Tony Mowbray – Luke O’Nien will come straight back in, and Jobe Bellingham’s had a good rest so we’re predicting it’ll be unchanged apart from the two centre backs.


Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Same again in goal today - Patterson’s been in good form and in the festive spirit after turning on the Fulwell Christmas tree lights this week!

Sunderland v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Defenders: Niall Huggins, Dan Ballard, Luke O’Nien, Trai Hume

We coped pretty well without Ballard and O’Nien last game – although Triantis and Seelt were a bit shaky first half they grew into the game and ended up performing admirably. That said, I don’t think either produced a display that makes them undroppable, and for a difficult away game Ballard and O’Nien will come back in, Ballard’s fitness permitting. Dennis Cirkin is injured again, so Huggins and Hume will be at full-backs. O’Nien needs to watch his pulling in the box though – we can’t afford to give away cheap penalties like we did at Swansea, and if he does it again I can see Mowbray having a serious think about a Seelt-Ballard partnership.

Sunderland v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Midfield: Dan Neil, Pierre Ekwah

I didn’t think either Neil or Ekwah played well last time out, and there is a decent argument for leaving Pierre out, dropping Jobe deeper and playing Aouchiche, who’s very close to a start. That could happen against Huddersfield, but I reckon we’ll err on the side of caution and go with our first choice midfield duo.

Sunderland v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Attack: Patrick Roberts, Jobe Bellingham, Jack Clarke

Unless we move Bellingham back, it’ll be unchanged here, with Roberts and Clarke on the wings and Bellingham playing as the most advanced of the three in the centre of the park.

Sunderland v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Striker: Nazariy Rusyn

There’s a goal coming for Naz today, I can feel it! Another good game last week and only a coat of paint prevented him from opening his account. He’ll surely get one today!

Sunderland v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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