Sunderland have all of a sudden hit a brick wall.
A few weeks ago they looked certain to creep into the automatic promotion places, but three negative results have dealt a massive setback to Lee Johnson and his men in that chase. The Mackems drew with Peterborough courtesy of an Aiden McGeady free-kick but have since tasted defeat to Charlton and Wigan.
Losing to the latter was particularly disappointing as the Latics are battling relegation and, against a teamof the Black Cats’ quality, they should have been dispatched relatively comfortable.
Instead, Sunderland were made to rue a succession of errors from set plays. With that in mind, how will Johnson change the team when they face Blackpool on Saturday?
Here’s our predicted XI…
We’re tipping the manager to make three changes from the side which lost to Leam Richardson’s team.
The first replacement is an enforced one as Dion Sanderson has been ruled out for a number of weeks with a back problem. Fortunately there is no fracture, so there is still hope that he’ll be fit before the season concludes.
As a result, Luke O’Nien shifts into the middle of defence again, with Max Power moving to right-back.
There are changes in midfield as a consequence. Carl Winchester comes in for Sanderson while Josh Scowen is dropped from the line-up.
He was particularly poor in the defeat to Wigan, being dribbled past on three occasions; so with that in mind, Grant Leadbitter gets a start. The veteran hasn’t particularly impressed in recent months but deserves another go after Scowen’s mishaps of late.
There is a final change in attack, where Aiden O’Brien comes back into the starting XI. Jack Diamond started last time out and caught the eye with his energy. However, he wasn’t the creative force that Aiden McGeady usually is on the left.
Diamond didn’t provide a single key pass for Charlie Wyke last time out, so Johnson could improve his chances of winning by moving his Irish talisman back out wide. After all, he has 13 assists to his name this season.
Unfortunately for Sunderland, they will still be without Tom Flanagan.