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Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Starting XI: Will Michael Beale ring the changes for today’s New Year’s clash?

After Friday’s draw at Rotherham, we’re back in action at the Stadium of Light against Preston. Will we make any changes to our starting line up?

Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Four points from two away games is decent – on paper, at least – and it’ll look even better if we can get all three today against Preston.

We started with Aouchiche in the more advanced forward role on Friday, but he struggled to get into the game, and by full time we’d actually hit on a better system that involved – shock, horror – a striker.

Michael Beale hinted after the game we’d rotate the squad a bit today, so who can we expect to see start the game today? Here’s what we might do...


Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Patterson had his best game for a while on Friday and will start in goal today – as long as the knock he seemed to pick up in the second half hasn’t flared up.

Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - AESSEAL New York Stadium Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Defenders: Timothy Pembele, Luke O’Nien, Dan Ballard, Trai Hume

Jenson Seelt did OK last time out, however, he’s a centre back (I’d like to see him get a run there) and he doesn’t give us a great deal going forward. Pembele and Alese were on the bench on Friday, and Pembele got a half hour run out – I think we might see one of them brought into the starting line up today.

And, given Pembele’s had a run out from the bench, he’s probably more likely to be thrown into the starting line up. At the back, O’Nien and Ballard should start, while Hume will take up one of the full back spots.

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

Midfield: Dan Neil, Pierre Ekwah

Unfortunately, we don’t have too many central midfield options – hopefully, that will be rectified in the transfer window – so it’s two from Neil, Ekwah and Bellingham.

I think Jobe looks in desperate need of a rest, so I reckon we’ll start with Neil and Ekwah in midfield. Neil will likely push on, and Ekwah will sit back – however, as far as I’m concerned, it should be the other way around.

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

Attack: Eliezer Mayenda, Alex Pritchard, Jack Clarke

Patrick Roberts went off injured on Friday, and he’s likely to sit this one out. While Ba came on to replace him against Rotherham, he didn’t do much to impress, and I would hope we’ll see someone else given a run. For me, that would be Mayenda – he looks more of a winger and would be a bit of a wildcard.

Clarke will line up on the left, while I expect/hope Pritchard will be returned to the starting XI.

Millwall v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dylan Hepworth/MB Media/Getty Images

Striker: Naz Rusyn

Just please.

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

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