Sunderland are gearing up for what is arguably the biggest game of the season so far.
The Black Cats have enjoyed an excellent 2021 so far and now find themselves firmly in contention to secure promotion to the Championship.
After losing just once since mid-January Lee Johnson’s side find themselves in fourth position in the table and just five points off the automatic promotion spots with two games in hand.
For Pompey, they’ll be hoping that a victory can put the pressure on as they look to build on their current sixth place position.
But what are the key considerations for Johnson ahead of the trip to Fratton Park? Let’s take a look.
The defender made his first league start for Sunderland at the weekend and was hugely impressive against Rochdale.
There’s no doubt that he deserves another opportunity but the challenge of facing Portsmouth is a different level.
Lee Johnson may opt for a more experienced option to slot in at right-back for the trip to Fratton Park and that could see the 21-year-old drop to the bench.
That said he was certainly comfortable at the weekend and so this could be the perfect chance to further prove himself.
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A judgement call on Lynden Gooch
The American missed out against Rochdale at the weekend through injury.
However with the winger looks set to return against Portsmouth at Fratton Park this evening, meaning that Lee Johnson has a decision to make.
Gooch could fit in at right wing-back or in a more advanced role but the chances are that his inclusion will depend on just how fit he is.
McGeady, Jones or both?
A match against Portsmouth is always going to be a tactical battle.
That could mean that Lee Johnson has to pick a side that will put a firmer emphasis on defensive stability.
Aiden McGeady and Jordan Jones are both incredibly talented attacking players but there’s a question that against a side like Pompey this could leave them a bit open at the back.
Including both players would be a real sign that Sunderland are going there to win the game, but of course it could be a risk.