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O’Brien starts: The predicted Sunderland XI to face Doncaster on Monday

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The scoreline wasn’t pretty but Sunderland fans can take a lot of heart from their 5-1 Carabao Cup defeat to Arsenal in midweek, with Lee Johnson’s side trying to go toe-to-toe with Premier League opposition. 

A semi-final would’ve been exciting but their full focus can now return to League One, with the Black Cats travelling to the Keepmoat Stadium on Monday to take on Doncaster Rovers.

The Yorkshire club are one place off the bottom of the table after a difficult first half of the season but claimed their first League One win since October in their last match against Shrewsbury Town.

Sunderland head into the game as clear favourites but Johnson won’t want to take any chances and with that in mind, we’ve outlined the starting XI we believe he’ll name on Monday…

Though there is little blame attributed to him for the defeat, Lee Burge didn’t do enough in the Carabao Cup clash with Arsenal to justify replacing Thorben Hoffmann between the sticks as first choice in the league.

Johnson will surely name his first choice back three – Callum Doyle, Bailey Wright, and Tom Flanagan – while we can expect Lynden Gooch and Carl Winchester to start on the flanks once again.

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Given the Black Cats can expect to see lots of possession, pairing Dan Neil with Elliot Embleton once again would be an appropriately aggressive move at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Alex Pritchard was arguably Sunderland’s standout performer at the Emirates, continuing his recent form, and is likely to retain his place in attacking midfield.

The injury to Nathan Broadhead, who has scored six goals in his last six games, is a frustrating blow for the North East club and how to replace him is the key talking point ahead of Monday’s game.

Assistant boss Jamie McAllister was ardent in his praise of Aiden O’Brien, suggesting he’ll likely be the player that partners Ross Stewart against Doncaster.

It’s a chance for the 28-year-old to show Johnson that he deserves to be a starter with the January window looming.


London-based sports journalist at Snack Media EFL accredited, graduate of New Associates and the University of Brighton

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: O’Brien starts: The predicted Sunderland XI to face Doncaster on Monday

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