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North Carolina v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly

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Starting XI: All change for Sunderland’s final pre-season clash?

Tonight’s game offers a chance for players to force their way into Tony Mowbray’s thoughts for Ipswich. Who’ll stake their claim?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Tony Mowbray gave a strong insight into his thinking ahead of the season’s opener with his selection against Real Mallorca – and it’s likely the players who didn’t start on Saturday will get a run out tonight.

Goalkeeper: Matthew Young

There’s no point taking any risks with Patterson tonight, so Matthew Young should line up in goal again, unless fellow youngster Adam Richardson’s fit again.

New Mexico United v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Defenders: Lynden Gooch, Nectar Triantis, Danny Batth, Niall Huggins

I was surprised Batth didn’t start alongside Ballard on Saturday, and we’ll soon see how much we can read into that. Gooch, Triantis and Huggins will likely start tonight – it was good to see Huggins back in action, and he could well provide stiff competition in both fullback positions.

Sunderland Training Session
Will Danny Batth be a first choice this season?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Midfield: Chris Rigg, Alex Pritchard

With Neil, Ekwah, Bellingham and O’Nien all playing on Saturday, we’re a little light in the centre of midfield. It’s almost certain Rigg will start, and Mowbray could well opt for the experience of Pritchard to partner him in a deeper-than-usual role.

North Carolina v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly
Another chance to impress for Rigg
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Attacking midfield: Issac Lihadji, Abdoullah Ba, Jewison Bennette

These three have been in good form in pre-season, and while it’ll be difficult to force their way past Clarke and Roberts, there is a third place in attack possibly up for grabs. It’ll be good for them to get a game into their legs tonight, and if they don’t make Sunday’s starting XI it’s a stick-on they’ll line up against Crewe in the league cup.

Sunderland v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet Championship
Lihadji had some bright moments on Saturday and should start tonight
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Striker: Harry Gardiner

Gardiner’s been in goalscoring form for the under-21s in pre-season, and I don’t see what we have to lose by giving either him or Max Thompson a run out up front, particularly in light of Mayenda’s injury.


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