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23-year-old starts: The Sunderland XI that Ross must play v Barnsley tomorrow

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Sunderland face Barnsley tomorrow in the very definition of a promotion ‘six pointer’.

The two sides are separated by four points, but the Black Cats have a game in hand. If that gap was to extend to seven, it would make life very awkward for Jack Ross and his side.

If they could plot their way to victory, it would mean a one point gap and a crucial game in hand. the prize at stake is huge.

The gap could have been closed a little more, but Sunderland missed a chance to stay in touch with a 1-1 draw against Wycombe this weekend.

Despite the rather robust approach by their hosts, they grabbed a late equaliser after a lukewarm display.

Gareth Ainsworth’s men perhaps should have won the game, which should serve as a severe warning.

With Duncan Watmore likely to miss out and George Honeyman suspended, here’s our XI for Sunderland tomorrow night.

Jon McLaughlin

He’s been a safe pair of hands throughout the campaign, refreshing when you consider the nightmare Sunderland had with stoppers last season.

There’s no danger whatsoever of anyone else starting in goal tomorrow.

Luke O'Nien

The former Wycombe youngster had a solid game against his former club and looks to have made the full back position his own.

He’ll need to be on point against Barnsley though, they’ve got real threat down the flanks.

Adam Matthews

Adam Matthews came on at left back at the weekend, replacing Reece James at half time.

He’ll keep his place, he was solid enough to warrant it for the second half against Wycombe.

Tom Flanagan

Flanagan has been excellent for the Black Cats this season, although he is an injury doubt.

We suspect he’ll be risked but if he isn’t, Jack Baldwin is a sure-fire contender to take his place.

Jimmy Dunne

Jimmy Dunne has forced his way into the starting XI and he’s surely here to stay.

Battled well against a robust Wycombe side at the weekend.

Grant Leadbitter

With Cameron McGeehan out for Barnsley, the midfield battle could be where Sunderland win the tie.

Leadbitter’s experience of big matches might just be crucial.

Lee Cattermole

Cattermole is surely one of the first names on the team sheet these days.

His experience will be vital tomorrow, especially in the crucial clash in the middle of the park.

Lewis Morgan

Morgan has forced his way into the starting line up, scoring as they secured the Wembley final last week.

He has to transfer that to league action, starting tomorrow.

Aiden McGeady

McGeady has big game experience and that could be vital tomorrow.

It’s a must-win game for Jack Ross’ side.

Lynden Gooch

Gooch came on for Lewis Morgan this weekend, but with George Honeyman suspended we think he’s going to get a start.

He’s a constant threat in the bank of three behind Grigg and they need to find a spark that was lacking against the Chairboys.

Will Grigg

Grigg still hasn’t notched from open play in the league and looked shot-shy against Wycombe.

Black Cats fans will be hoping he rises to the occasion tomorrow.

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