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Hull City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Starting XI: Is this the Sunderland team that’ll face Hull City tonight?

It’ll be our second game against the Tigers in a matter of weeks, so will Michael Beale make any major changes for this televised Friday night game?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Saturday’s game at Ipswich was – as Michael Beale said in his press conference this week –one of fine margins.

However, it was only that way because of how we approached the game.

Our team selection and defensive approach stifled our attacking threat against an Ipswich team missing three or four first-choice players, and we failed to capitalise. Yes, you can point out misses and silly fouls, but maybe it shouldn’t have come to that.

Personally, I couldn’t understand the decision to drop Nazariy Rusyn, and given he did drop him, I’d be surprised to see him come back into the team tonight, but who knows?

This is what I think Beale might go with tonight and if he does, I’d be seriously worried about getting the win. But we’ll see!

Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Patterson’s been linked with Liverpool this week, and he’ll no doubt be wanting to impress any scouts who are watching.

I don’t think he’ll move this during this window, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some interest stepped up in the summer.

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

Defenders: Jenson Seelt, Luke O’Nien, Dan Ballard, Trai Hume

Aji Alese picked up an injury in training and I don’t think we’ll risk him.

If he’s out, Hume will likely move over to left back and Seelt will come into the defence. Timothée Pembélé is the other option, but reading between the lines, I suspect Beale wants him to get more match fitness in the U21s as he looked way off the pace against Preston.

Personally, I’d put Seelt in the middle and O’Nien at full back, but I suspect it’ll be the other way round.

Hull City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Will Seelt get another Hull start?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Midfield: Dan Neil, Pierre Ekwah

We need another central midfield option, but we’ll probably start with Neil and Ekwah here.

I did think Neil was excellent last weekend, but Ekwah continues to flatter to deceive.

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Attack: Abdoullah Ba, Alex Pritchard, Jobe Bellingham, Jack Clarke

Leaving out Rusyn after scoring against Preston was mind-bogglingly bonkers as far as I’m concerned.

We’ve needed a striker to score all year. Rusyn did, played well, and got a standing ovation when he was brought off – and was dropped for the next league game. Absolute madness.

I can’t see how he can select Rusyn today after dropping him last week, so I’m predicting an unchanged forward line, with Pritchard and Jobe – who might as well have ‘I need a rest’ tattooed on his forehead – leading the line.

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images


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