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Sunderland v Southampton FC - Sky Bet Championship

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Starting XI: How will Sunderland line up for today’s game against QPR?

With new signings available and players returning from injury, will Tony Mowbray be tempted into any changes for today’s clash at Loftus Road?

Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The 5-0 win over Southampton seems a while ago now – and, while last night’s game at St Mary’s showed the Saints might not be all that, it was still an impressive win and, more importantly, performance.

With new signings available and Patrick Roberts returning from injury, Tony Mowbray’s got a few decisions to make today. I do think the inclusion of Mason Burstow would potentially give us more of an outlet away from home – that was something that was lacking at Coventry and Preston – however, I can’t see beyond an unchanged team today.

Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Patterson had a pretty quiet afternoon last time out, but was fortunate to keep a clean sheet with one that he mishandled in the second half.

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

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

We’ll go in with an unchanged backline today. Trai Hume’s coming into form after a slow start to the season, while Ballard and O’Nien are forming a good partnership. It’s been interesting that they’ve swapped sides in recent games, with O’Nien playing on the right – we’ll wait to see whether that’s been a tactical thing in the last two or is a permanent arrangement.

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

Midfield: Dan Neil, Pierre Ekwah

We’ve been talking for a while about Pierre Ekwah having the ability to add goals to his game, and he did that in superb style against Southampton. While the first took a deflection, it was still his ability to take long-range shots that led to the goal, while his second was taken impressively quickly. He’s got the ability to get into double figures from the centre of the park, and when was the last time we could say that about a central midfielder? Lee Clark? Meanwhile, alongside him, Dan Neil has been quietly impressive this season and is maturing into an excellent midfielder player.

Sunderland v Southampton FC - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Attack: Abdoullah Ba, Bradley Dack, Jobe Bellingham, Jack Clarke

Mowbray is pretty loyal to players, and I think Adboullah Ba deserves to keep his place in the team today after his excellent performance against Southampton. Patrick Roberts is apparently fit today, but I can’t see him coming back into the team this afternoon. I think we’ll go in with the ‘front four’ approach, with Dack and Bellingham forming a fluid, central two and Clarke on the left.


Barnesy’s Blog: Jack Clarke is simply unplayable!


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