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Sunderland Unveil New Signing Bradley Dack

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Starting XI: Is this the Sunderland team that will start against Rotherham today?

Will Tony Mowbray be tempted to make changes today at home to Rotherham?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Two league defeats from two isn’t the way anyone would want to start the season, and we need to get back to winning ways as soon as possible. Performance wise, I think we’ve been OK – we should have got something from Ipswich, and should have beaten Preston last week, and for that reason I don’t think Tony Mowbray will be too keen to change much this weekend. We just need to find a way to be more ruthless up front – until we sign a new striker at least. The big decisions the manager faces today in my mind are whether we start Hemir and Danny Batth – other than that, it’s probably a pretty straightforward selection. Here’s what I think he’ll do.

Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Same again in goal today. Patterson’s had a steady start to the season and is looking pretty composed.

Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Defenders: Trai Hume, Dan Ballard, Luke O’Nien, Dennis Cirkin

Mowbray’s decision to start the season with Luke O’Nien at centre back has come under scrutiny given our results so far, but I don’t see that O’Nien’s done too much wrong. Mowbray’s explanation of O’Nien’s selection - that he’s more comfortable on the ball and can pick a pass better than Batth – is valid, and those qualities will be important today. An argument for Batth’s selection would be his strength against Jordan Hugill, but I think O’Nien’s passing will win out. Alongside him, Hume, Ballard and Cirkin should all start.

Preston North End v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

Midfield: Dan Neil, Pierre Ekwah

I’ve been watching Dan Neil closely this season, and think he’s had a quietly effective start to the campaign. He’s another who came in for a little bit of criticism last week, but he’s been fine - he knits things together well. Alongside him, Ekwah’s had a quieter start to the season than would have been hoped, and it’ll be good to see him really stamp his authority on the game today, Of course, another option would be to bring Batth into defence and play O’Nien in here – if it was an away game I think we’d do that, but I don’t envisage it happening today.

Sunderland v Crewe Alexandra - Carabao Cup - First Round - Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Attacking midfield: Patrick Roberts, Bradley Dack, Jack Clarke

I thought Dack looked neat and tidy on the ball last weekend, albeit out of position, and I think he might drop a bit deeper in the 10 role today, with Bellingham missing out. There are two reasons for this – firstly, I think we’ll take Bellingham out of the line-up today for Dack’s experience, and secondly, I reckon we’ll want Hemir’s aerial strength from an attacking and defending perspective. Hemir’s not impressed too much in the league so far, but he had an impressive pre-season and think he’ll get another run out today.

Sunderland v Crewe Alexandra - Carabao Cup First Round Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Striker: Hemir Semado

I was surprised Hemir missed out last weekend, but when he did get an opportunity he did little to impress from the bench, Still, I think he’ll start today for the reasons outlined above. Hopefully come next Saturday, he’s got a bit more competition.

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


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