Sunderland are back in action this afternoon, with an away clash against Cambridge United next up for the Black Cats in their latest League Out fixture.
Speaking ahead of the match, Black Cats manager Lee Johnson revealed that in addition to the already injured trio of Dennis Cirkin, Denver Hume and Niall Huggins, he will also be without Aiden McGeady for a period of eight to 12 weeks with a knee injury.
Furthermore, it has been reported by the Sunderland Echo that Luke O’Nien is also a doubt for today’s match as he has apparently seen a surgeon to assess the best way to deal with a persistent shoulder problem.
With this in mind, here’s how we feel Sunderland could line up against Cambridge and what changes could be made from the team which started their 1-1 draw against Shrewsbury Town in midweek. We expect four alteration to the starting line-up for today’s trip to the Abbey Stadium.
In goal, we think Johnson will stick with Ron-Thorben Hoffmann to see if he can keep a clean sheet on this occasion.
For the defence, taking into account the current injury issues, we expect Johnson to go with Carl Winchester at right-back with Lynden Gooch dropping out after some much-maligned recent performances. Callum Doyle and Bailey Wright retain the centre-back positions, with Tom Flanagan coming in to fill in at left-back if O’Nien isn’t fit enough to feature.
Moving to the midfield, we can see Dan Neil keeping his place in the team but with Corry Evans coming in if Winchester is pushed back to defence.
On the wings, with Aiden O’Brien failing to impress against Shrewsbury, we think he will drop down to the bench, with Leon Dajaku – who is currently valued at £1.62m by Transfermarkt – coming back in on the right. On the left, we can see Johnson giving Elliot Embleton a chance to prove his worth once more; he comes in ahead of Nathan Broadhead on this occasion.
Given how he scored in midweek against Shrewsbury, it would make sense for Alex Pritchard to keep his place in the team behind top scorer Ross Stewart to see if he can add to his goals tally and secure a win for the travelling Black Cats.
Whether or not Johnson goes with the starting XI that we have suggested, he will undoubtedly be hoping that not only can his team secure a win and keep their charge for promotion alive, but also that his injured players will be able to make full recoveries and get back to action as soon as possible.