Sunderland have two matches left of the regular 2021/22 League One campaign to secure their place in the play-offs, and they come up against Rotherham at the Stadium of Light tonight.
They face the Millers in their penultimate match in a game which could have huge repercussions at the top end of the table.
The Black Cats are only one point ahead of seventh-placed Sheffield Wednesday and could find themselves out of the top six if they fail to win, whilst Paul Warne’s side are second and only above third-placed MK Dons on goal difference.
Alex Neil will need to get his team selection and tactics spot-on to come away with the three points, and one decision we believe he must make is the call to start Alex Pritchard.
The ex-Norwich midfielder’s last start came on 2nd April against Gillingham and he must now finally be unleashed in the starting XI after making his return from injury off the bench against Cambridge.
Pritchard has been sublime when he has played this season, as he has averaged an excellent SofaScore rating of 7.10 in League One. He has scored four goals and provided seven assists in the division, showing that he has the quality to make a difference in the final third.
Former Black Cats manager Johnson previously showered the magician with praise, saying: “Pritch is going to be important for us and I think you see that as well.
“We are still building him up. He’s 95 percent fit and I think he has that quality to unlock doors at this level that most people haven’t.”
The £8.5k-per-week dynamo has created 2.1 chances per game in League One this term and provided his team-mates with eight ‘big chances’ in total. He has proven Johnson right as he has been able to consistently deliver with his creativity on the ball.
Meanwhile, Patrick Roberts has averaged an underwhelming SofaScore rating of 6.61 as he has created 1.2 chances per match and started out wide against Cambridge last time out. This suggests that the ex-Spurs man has a better chance of making a difference against the Millers, as he has been better over the course of the campaign when fit.
Forget about Roberts out on the left flank; Pritchard must be unleashed from the start tonight to help Sunderland break down Rotherham’s defence.
AND in other news, Double blow as Sunderland hit with a huge setback ahead of final two games…