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Sunderland vs Huddersfield Town Sky Bet Championship

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Starting XI: Two changes predicted for Sunderland today! Will Mason Burstow come back in?

Wednesday was rubbish. Hopefully this afternoon will be far, far better.

Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Well. After a decent performance and poor result last Saturday, we turned in an abysmal performance and result on Wednesday at home to Huddersfield. Bright performances were few and far between, and we really need a response today at Millwall, otherwise our season is at serious risk of derailment before it’s picked up a full head of steam.

So, what does Mowbray do? Rusyn missed out on Wednesday – through injury it seems – while Huggins was apparently dropped due to medical advice too. Will those two be back in contention?

Up front, Eliza Mayenda didn’t have anywhere near the same impact as he had in his sub game against Birmingham, and I think he’ll be better used from the bench. Question marks must hang over the involvement of Patrick Roberts and Jobe Bellingham, both of whom look as if they are in need of a break, but players like Ba haven’t done much from the bench to warrant a starting berth either. Decisions, decisions.

But, we know Mowbray’s a manager that likes to give players the chance to redeem themselves, and in the main I think that’ll be his approach today. Here’s how I think we might line up.


Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Could Patterson have done a little better with Huddersfield’s goals on Wednesday? Maybe. I thought he looked all at sea for the first, while I think he’ll be disappointed he didn’t get down to the second. But, he made a few good saves, including one in the early stages, and regadless he’ll start today.

Sunderland v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

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

Huggins was allegedly left out on Wednesday on medical grounds, but that still doesn’t explain why we played Seelt at full back. It was unfair on him. We missed Huggins’ forward play and we need that back today. I’m hoping we dispense with this ploy of moving Hume into central midfield when we have possession too – all that does is narrow us, and makes it easy to defend against. Anyway, O’Nien and Ballard are nailed on at the centre, and the lack of Cirkin and Alese means we’re limited in what we can do here.

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

Midfield: Dan Neil, Jobe Bellingham

Centre midfield is a problem for us, and I actually wouldn’t be that surprised if we did something left field like put Seelt in here today, but I’m going to stick with Neil and Jobe. To be honest, Jobe needs a few games out of the team, he’s not being as effective as he was earlier in the season and has played every game so far. Neil is another who could do with some competition, but as we have none he’s guaranteed to start.

Sunderland v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Attack: Patrick Roberts, Adil Aouchiche, Jack Clarke

Aouchiche started brightly but faded on Wednesday, and part of me expects Mowbray to drop him for Dack today. However, I’d stick with him - he’s got obvious quality and needs a run. Clarke’s a certainty while on the other side Patrick Roberts needs to start delivering. He’s been poor in the past few weeks, but I don’t necessarily think it’s all his fault. He needs players around him and supporting him, and players getting on the overlap for him to play to and create space. For that reason I think we’ll stick with him, and hopefully a tactical tweak or two will mean we can get the best out of him today.

Sunderland vs Huddersfield Town Sky Bet Championship Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Striker: Mason Burstow

Mayenda struggled to get into the game on Wednesday, and it’s surely now clear – given Hemir, Burstow, Rusyn and Mayenda haven’t got on the scoresheet yet – that the striker issue is caused by something greater than personnel. So, what do we do? He clearly doesn’t fancy Hemir, Rusyn is doubtful and Mayenda will probably be better utilised from the bench – unless we bank on Millwall coming out recklessly and leaving early gaps in their defence for us to exploit, but I don’t think they will. So, the choice is bringing Burstow back in, or putting Pritchard or Dack in a more advanced role. To be honest, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Pritchard playing in that attacking role – it might well be a case that Mowbray reverts to what he did last season in an attempt to get a result – but I suspect we might see Mason Burstow, back in London, get a chance today before bringing Mayenda on against tiring legs with 20-30 minutes to go.

Sunderland vs Huddersfield Town Sky Bet Championship Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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