The Black Cats impressed in a difficult opening day fixture against Coventry City at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland led early on through Jack Clarke and held on until the closing exchanges when a moment of brilliance from Viktor Gyokeres ensured the Sky Blues took a point back to the CBS Arena.
Alex Neil matched Coventry up with a back three last time out and may do the same against the Robins, after Nigel Pearson’s men were very impressive in the final third last season.
Niall Huggins remains a long-term absentee for the Wearside club, but otherwise Neil has all senior players at his disposal.
We are predicting one change from the side that began the season against Coventry…
Luke O’Nien comes in for Dan Neil as Alex Neil adopts a more pragmatic approach to the club’s first away trip in the second tier since 2017/18.
Dan Neil is an excellent ball carrier and will be an important player in matches that the Black Cats are expected to win this season, however as they acclimatise to the step up, a player with O’Nien’s energy on and off the ball, and ability to protect the backline alongside Corry Evans may be preferred.
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Sunderland dropped off in an attacking sense after Alex Pritchard came off last weekend, and though they have some decent depth in attacking areas, it will be a facet of their game that the former Norwich City boss looks to improve on before the transfer window closes.
Danny Batth and Daniel Ballard are building a partnership in the back three, with Dennis Cirkin providing some balance on the left side, while Bailey Wright sits on the bench waiting for an opportunity.
Elliot Embleton keeps his place over Patrick Roberts as he does contribute more out of possession.