Yesterday was a busy one on Wearside, with a number of players departing the club and some new arrivals, too. None of the new signings were completed in time to take part in today’s fixture, and none of the players who’ve departed have started a game for us this season, so the impact on Tony Mowbray’s team selection today is non-existent really, apart from having to fill the bench.
The big question for me is whether we get Alex Pritchard into the team today. For me, Ba was pretty anonymous against Coventry, and Pritchard’s improved us every time he’s come onto the pitch this season. Personally, I’d like to see Pritchard back in the team.
Last week, Jobe Bellingham was pushed into a more advanced role and Dack dropped deeper – will we see this again, or will Hemir get another go up front?
Here’s what I think Tony Mowbray will do...
Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson
Patterson’s been in good form this season, and will need to be at his best today.
Defenders: Trai Hume, Dan Ballard, Luke O’Nien, Dennis Cirkin
Same again at the back I reckon. Ballard and O’Nien are first choice when fit, and while Huggins is pushing Hume and Cirkin for a place, I don’t think he’ll displace either today.
Midfield: Dan Neil, Pierre Ekwah
Over the past 12 months it’s been strikers we’ve been short of – now it’s central midfielders. To be blunt, we’re desperately short in the centre of midfield, and there’s a lot of pressure on Neil and Ekwah to both perform consistently and not get injured or suspended. A massive ask. Anyway, they’re both available today, and will start.
Attacking midfield: Alex Pritchard, Bradley Dack, Jack Clarke
Last week, Abdoullah Ba started on the right wing, and Mowbray may well stick with the youngster - however I do think he’s better as a ‘10’, and he’s not going to get in there for the foreseeable future. I reckon Mowbray will be keen to get Pritchard into the team, and we may see a bit of rotation between Pritchard, Dack and Bellingham as the game progresses.
Striker: Jobe Bellingham
He did well up front against Rotherham, but struggled to get into the game last week. I reckon Jobe will start up front again this week - however, with the striker signings we’ve managed to make, this is very much a short term fix.