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Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship

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Starting XI: We’re predicting two changes for Sunderland versus Stoke City!

There are some big calls to be made by Michael Beale as the Potters make the trip to Wearside, so how might the Lads line up this afternoon?

Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

While much criticism has been levelled at Michael Beale in recent days, the players need to take some responsibility too.

The lack of movement, speed of passing and attacking intent simply weren’t there last Friday against Hull, and for all everyone seems to be eager to blame Beale, it’s not that straightforward.

Nazariy Rusyn came back into the team on Friday but didn’t have a sniff. However, when watching him closely through the game, it was interesting to note that his movement off the ball was superb, but we weren’t picking him out at all.

We desperately lacked width on Friday, and surely Abdoullah Ba will come in from the start today to play on the right hand side?

Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson

Patterson couldn’t do much to prevent Hull’s goal last week.

It was pretty much the only shot he had to face, which was frustrating but pretty much summed up things at present.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Scott Llewellyn/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Defenders: Timothée Pembélé, Luke O’Nien, Dan Ballard, Trai Hume

Playing Jenson Seelt at full back just doesn’t work, and that’s no slight on him, by the way.

I think he looks a really good player and I’d like to see him in the centre of defence sooner rather than later, but he offers us absolutely nothing going forward.

With Dennis Cirkin and Aji Alese out, Hume will have to play left back until another option is brought in there, so Pembélé should come in at right back today. In the centre, it’ll be Ballard and O’Nien.

Sunderland v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Midfield: Dan Neil, Pierre Ekwah

We’re short on options in the centre of midfield and Jay Matete clearly isn’t fancied, even though I’d give him a run out today in place of Ekwah, so it’ll be the same again here.

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Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Attack: Abdoullah Ba, Alex Pritchard, Jack Clarke

Ba must be wondering what’s going on.

He plays poorly and keeps his place, before he plays well and gets dropped. We looked better when Ba came on against Hull, and he’ll surely start, but who gets dropped?

Surely Jobe has to sit out for a few weeks?

He’s looked a shadow of the player he was earlier in the season and we’re not doing him any favours by keeping him in the starting line up. Alex Pritchard should keep his place if that happens, while Jack Clarke is a certainty.

Sunderland v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Striker: Nazariy Rusyn

We’ve simply got to stick with a striker, and although I thought Hemir looked decent during his brief cameo against Hull, I think Rusyn will start today.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images


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