Today’s game at home to Real Mallorca is our penultimate pre-season game before the real action starts next weekend, and I expect we’ll see what Tony Mowbray considers our strongest starting XI from the off today.
While Dennis Cirkin has been back in training this week, I think we’re more likely to see him get a run out at Hartlepool on Tuesday – likewise Bradley Dack and Eliezer Mayenda, although the three could well get a few minutes from the bench.
Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson
I still expect another keeper will arrive at the club before the transfer window shuts, however, Patterson is certainly our number one heading into the season.
Defenders: Trai Hume, Dan Ballard, Danny Batth, Luke O’Nien
With Cirkin just returning to training, and injury doubts again surrounding the unfortunate Niall Huggins, Luke O’Nien will likely fill the left-back role. The other positions fill themselves for now I reckon – Hume, Ballard and Batth are nailed on heading into the new season.
Midfield: Dan Neil, Pierre Ekwah
There’s a good bit of competition in the centre of midfield now, but I reckon Ekwah and Neil are our first choice partnership for now, and expect they’ll start today.
Attacking midfield: Patrick Roberts, Alex Pritchard, Jack Clarke
Roberts and Clarke are again guaranteed to start in my book, so the position up for grabs is the number 10 slot. There are a few options here - including new arrival Bradley Dack – however, I think Pritchard will get the nod today.
I hope we’ll get a third striker in before the window shuts, but Hemir will surely start today. He’s looked promising so far in pre-season, and has scored a few goals too, so it’ll be good to see him in action at the Stadium of Light.