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Sunderland v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship

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Starting XI: How will Sunderland line up without Dan Ballard today vs Burnley?

Our centre back was injured on international duty, and will be missing against the Clarets - so, who will replace him?

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

After the break for internationals, we’re back in action - but have an ever-increasing injury list to contend with. Dan Ballard’s withdrawal during the Northern Ireland game means we’re without someone who’s established themselves as a bit of a talisman for us this season - and, with Alese ruled out for the season too, Huggins perpetually sidelined and Anderson seemingly not ready for championship football yet, it seems slim pickings at the back. Cirkin could be back in the squad, but it seems a big ask for him to come straight back into the starting line up after such a long spell out.

Elsewhere, it seems as if the biggest question is to Gelhardt or not to Gelhardt. I suspect we’ll go into this game with what we believe to be our strongest XI, and start mixing it up from next weekend.

Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Patterson didn’t see any under-21 action but will surely have benefitted from a spell away and looking to have a strong run-in for the rest of the season.

England U21 Training Session Photo by Alex Livesey - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Defence: Lynden Gooch, Trai Hume, Danny Batth, Luke O’Nien, Jack Clarke

With Dan Ballard’s injury, I think we’ll turn to Lynden Gooch to make up the numbers in defence. He could play as a regular left back in a four, but I think we might do that lopsided defence we do on occasion, with Gooch playing almost as a wing back, Trai Hume dropping in, and Jack Clarke taking on more defensive responsibility on the left.

Sunderland v Luton - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Midfield: Edouard Michut, Dan Neil

Same again in the centre of the park, with Dan Neil and Michut continuing their partnership. At Norwich both sat deep, and I think the same will happen tonight.

Sunderland v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Attack: Patrick Roberts, Amad, Joe Gelhardt

Amad will come back into the team tonight, with Roberts on the right and Clarke advancing from a deeper role. Gelhardt will start again up front I reckon - hopefully his spectacular training goal will give him a confidence boost!

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


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