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Starting XI: Is this the XI that will start for Sunderland today against Ipswich Town?

The real stuff gets back underway today – but who’s had a good enough pre-season to make this afternoon’s starting line up.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Last Saturday, Tony Mowbray picked what I reckon he believes to be his strongest team at present – no one did anything to force their way into his thinking on Tuesday at Hartlepool. So, is this how we’ll line up today against Ipswich?

Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Nathan Bishop’s arrived from Man Utd, and he’ll likely push Patterson harder than Alex Bass was able to do last season, however, Patto will deservedly start the season as first choice.

Hartlepool United v Sunderland - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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

Danny Batth’s been the biggest story of the preseason for me – firstly the rumours he can go, then not playing alongside Ballard last weekend, to not even having the captain’s armband at Hartlepool on Tuesday.

For a player who was so pivotal last time out, and given our dearth of experienced players, I would have thought he’d have been a stick-on for a first XI place – however, I think we’ll see Luke O’Nien alongside Dan Ballard at the heart of the defence today.

On the right, Trai Hume will hopefully continue his fine form from the second half of the campaign, while if fit Dennis Cirkin will start on the left.

New Mexico United v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly
Ballard’s contract news was a good boost before the action kicks off!
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Midfield: Dan Neil, Pierre Ekwah

Neil and Ekwah finished the last campaign as the first-choice midfield pairing, and the experience of playing last season will stand them in really good stead this time out.

Before Matete’s injury I thought we were well stocked in midfield but in truth, at present, Neil and Ekwah haven’t got much competition – particularly if we see Rigg, Ba and Bellingham playing further forward and O’Nien at the back – which is the case judging by what’s happened in pre-season.

Mowbray’s spoken of getting in midfield reinforcements, and hopefully, we will over the next week or two.

Sunderland v RCD Mallorca - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images,

Attacking midfield: Patrick Roberts, Jobe Bellingham, Jack Clarke

Roberts and Clarke pick themselves when fit, and it’s the ‘number 10’ role that is up for grabs. I actually wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Chris Rigg get the nod as a bit of a wildcard – I suspect we’ll see Dack on Tuesday rather than today – but I reckon Bellingham will get the jersey today ahead of Rigg and Pritchard.

Sunderland v RCD Mallorca - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images,

Striker: Hemir

Well, there’s little option, is there?

To be fair, even if he had some competition, Hemir would likely be in with a shout for the starting XI based on his pre-season form, so hopefully, he’s among the goals from the off today... And stays fit!

Sunderland v RCD Mallorca - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images,


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