Sunderland will be hoping to return to the top of League One on Saturday as they face Rotherham away from home.
The Black Cats are currently fourth in the table and two points behind leaders Plymouth, with at least one game in hand over all three teams above them.
Lee Johnson’s side come into today’s game off the back of a spirited performance against Championship side QPR on penalties in the Carabao Cup, securing a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.
One player who Johnson should unleash against Rotherham after missing out on a starting spot in west London is left-back Dennis Cirkin. He came off the bench against the R’s and put in an impressive display, and he should come in for Denver Hume this afternoon.
The Black Cats head coach has confirmed that Hume is a big doubt for the game, saying: “We’re just awaiting scan results (on Hume), but it doesn’t look good for the weekend, if I’m honest with you. We’ll have to see.
“Hopefully, he won’t be out too long. It’ll be disappointing for him, but it’s part of being a footballer. You’ve just got to bounce back.”
This suggests that there will be a vacancy at left-back and Cirkin should be the player Johnson calls upon to fill it against Rotherham. As per SofaScore, he won seven of his nine individual duels (77.7%) and made three tackles in 66 minutes on the pitch. He also completed two of his three attempted dribbles and 79% of his passes, recording a solid rating of 6.9.
Johnson lauded him as ‘highly regarded’ upon his arrival at the club in the summer from Premier League side Tottenham.
He told Sunderland’s official website: “To get a player of Dennis’ quality at 19 speaks wonders in terms of what we’re trying to do because he is a top talent and he’s very highly regarded within the game. We have been really happy with the signings we have made so far and we will bank this one, but we will continue our work quietly and efficiently to try and get a couple more over the line.”
This shows how much Johnson rates the full-back, whose performance against QPR should be enough to secure his place in the starting XI today. He started 10 of the previous 11 League One matches before being dropped for Hume to come in, which also shows that the manager trusts him to provide consistent displays. Therefore, the 40-year-old should unleash the youngster against Rotherham this afternoon.