Sunderland head into this weekend’s huge tussle with Coventry having lost just once in their last 15 outings.
However, this will be one of their biggest tests yet as they face a side also gunning for promotion from League One.
Coincidentally, the Black Cats’ only major hiccup in the last couple of months has been against a side in and around them, suffering defeat against Portsmouth.
But who will start in this weekend’s clash? There might well be a few changes in store.
The old adage is don’t fix what ain’t broke and that should be the mantra for the Mackems on Sunday – to a certain degree anyway.
Charlie Wyke and Lyndon Gooch are both slight doubts for the encounter but there should at least be one change that isn’t enforced on Sunday lunchtime.
Denver Hume has been rather inconsistent of late and his performances have done little to warrant a constant starting berth.
Sunderland have been in terrific form, keeping eight clean sheets in their last ten games but he has been one of the few players to underperform.
Journalist Phil Smith claimed he looked “off the pace” during their 1-1 draw with Fleetwood in midweek and this could be as good a time as any to drop him.
One of Hume’s stand out moments this season was the strike against Wycombe but he’s failed to show a similar sort of threat since that moment. His pass success rate has failed to clear the 77% mark while he’s won just three tackles and played eight successful crosses in nine matches, according to WhoScored.
For someone playing as a wing-back, you’d want them to be providing more in the final third. On top of that, Hume has also lost possession regularly. Via SofaScore, the 21-year-old lost the ball 21 times in midweek.
With that in mind, now seems like an ideal time to hand Declan John his debut. The left-sided player featured in a behind closed doors game on Wednesday, playing 60 minutes in a 5-2 win for the Black Cats over Carlisle.
John had yet to pull on a Sunderland shirt until that moment but he’s now received minutes and got up to speed rather nicely. Manager Phil Parkinson noted last week that he’d been unfortunate to miss out, primarily because he needed other options from the bench.
However, Hume’s disappointing displays should lead to John finally getting an opportunity.
The Swansea loanee was assured with his passing in 2018/19, recording a success rate of 85.8%. John is also a more prolific tackler, winning 1.3 challenges in the Championship last campaign compared to Hume’s 0.8 this season.
Coventry may be a baptism of fire but he’s already proven his qualities at a higher level.
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