With Lee Johnson having seen his Sunderland side get off to a highly impressive start to their 2021/22 League One campaign, with the Black Cats picking up 15 points over their opening six fixtures of the season, hopes will undoubtedly be high of achieving yet another positive result against Fleetwood Town on Saturday afternoon.
Indeed, in the club’s most recent fixture against a then-second placed Accrington Stanley side, the Mackems sent a clear message to the rest of the league with a dominant 2-1 win, a result which ensured Sunderland maintained their position at the top of the table.
So, with Johnson looking to further strengthen his side’s title credentials at Highbury on Saturday, will the 40-year-old make any changes to the team that defeated Accy last weekend? Here’s how we think Sunderland could line up against the Cod Army, along with the latest team and injury news…
With Tom Flanagan suspended for the Fleetwood clash after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, Johnson will be forced into at least one change to the side that started against Accy, however, we also expect the 40-year-old to make one further switch in his line-up.
Concerning the absence of centre-back Flanagan, it would appear to be a choice between Bailey Wright or Frederik Alves to come into the starting XI in the heart of the Sunderland defence.
However, with Alves having highly impressed in the 3-2 Carabao Cup win against Blackpool earlier this season, as well as the fact that Fleetwood are currently languishing down in 17th place in the League One standings, Saturday’s fixture would appear the perfect time to unleash the West Ham United loanee.
Furthermore, with Johnson revealing that he expects Leon Dajaku to make his debut against the Cod Army, and with Lynden Gooch having averaged a rather disappointing SofaScore match rating of 6.63 over his six league appearances so far this season, we expect the £5k-per-week winger to drop out of the side for the 20-year-old Bayern Munich loanee.
Elsewhere, the central midfield duo of Daniel Neil and Luke O’Nien remains unchanged, despite club captain Corry Evans’ presence on the bench.