If Sunderland’s plight with Covid-19 a few weeks ago wasn’t bad enough, the squad has now been ravaged with injuries to a number of first-team players.
Luke O’Nien is still out as he recovers from a dislocated shoulder but Conor McLaughlin, Danny Graham, Lee Burge and Will Grigg are now absent.
Clearly, Lee Johnson’s start to life as Mackems boss hasn’t exactly been ideal. However, on paper, they should be victorious when they face relegation-threatened AFC Wimbledon on Saturday afternoon.
Though, with all of Sunderland’s injuries in mind, how will Johnson’s team look?
We’re tipping the Black Cats manager to make as many as three changes to the side that defeated Port Vale in the Papa John’s Trophy last week.
With McLaughlin set to go under the knife, Max Power keeps his place at right-back. Calum McFadzean is selected over Wolves loanee Dion Sanderson at left-back.
Jordan Willis retains his spot with Flanagan out so all of the aforementioned changes come in the final third.
Aiden O’Brien scored in Sunderland’s midweek win but we think that Jack Diamond should come in and start as he did against Hull City. The youngster was mightily impressive during that clash, making a team-high three successful dribbles from six attempted. As bright as O’Brien was against Port Vale, he failed to complete a single dribble.
Another change sees Elliot Embleton drop into midfield which means Aiden McGeady replaces Dan Neil. The Irishman netted late on in the Papa John’s Trophy so gets a chance to show what he’s capable of from the off once again.
The final change sees top-scorer Charlie Wyke replace Lynden Gooch as the centre-forward. The target man missed a wonderful opportunity to score when Sunderland played the Tigers but given his fabulous record of ten goals this term, simply has to start.