Sunderland return to League One action today as they travel to face Gillingham in an attempt to return to the top of the table.
The Black Cats are currently fourth in the league and one point behind leaders Plymouth, who have played two more matches in the division.
Lee Johnson’s side come into the game off the back of two EFL Trophy matches, beating Lincoln and Manchester United’s under-21’s. However, their last league match was a 4-0 defeat to Portsmouth prior to the international break.
How many changes will Johnson make to his team? Here is our predicted XI…
We are predicting that he will make 11 changes from the EFL Trophy win over Man United and three from the defeat to Portsmouth, with Aiden McGeady, Callum Doyle and Dan Neil all returning to the XI after sitting out the nightmare at Fratton Park.
Sunderland’s team against United’s under-21’s was essentially an academy side, with Denver Hume the only player with a bulk of first team experience. The 25-year-old captained the side that night but we are predicting that he will be axed today, along with the rest of that XI, for Dennis Cirkin to return at left-back, as the summer signing from Spurs has started seven league games this term.
At centre-back, we are predicting that Doyle will come in for Bailey Wright. The on-loan defender has started eight games and averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.84, whilst the Australian has averaged a score of 6.66. Therefore, Doyle coming in alongside Tom Flanagan could help solidify the defence after losing 4-0 to Portsmouth with the former Bristol City man at the back.
In midfield, Corry Evans has been ruled out and we are predicting that Neil will start in central midfield after missing out against Portsmouth. The 19-year-old has averaged a solid score of 6.86 across nine League One appearances, scoring one goal and setting up two.
Assistant manager Jamie McAllister confirmed that McGeady could be back involved after returning to training. He told Sunderland’s official website: “Aiden trained this morning and he’s coming along nicely.
“He’s been doing a lot of work in the last 10 days, he still feels it a little bit now and then in certain movements, so we’ll just monitor him over the next 48 hours and see how he is come the weekend.”
This comes at the perfect time as Leon Dajaku is said to be struggling with a knock, which means that McGeady could come in for him out wide, with Aiden O’Brien taking up his place on the other flank. This then leaves Elliot Embleton and Ross Stewart returning to complete the attack after starting against Pompey .