League One side Sunderland will be desperate to get back to winning ways this weekend after a disappointing midweek loss to high-flyers Burton Albion, as they take on AFC Wimbledon at the Stadium of Light.
The Dons are unbeaten in the third tier under Mark Robinson in 2021/22, having won one and drawn two of their three league games. But despite coming up against Nigel Adkins’ Charlton Athletic in the Carabao Cup, the upcoming tie tomorrow afternoon (3pm) is arguably their toughest test of the season thus far.
After a slow start to the summer on Wearside in terms of transfers, three players have arrived for the Black Cats in the last week and they will be hoping to add a couple more additions before the transfer window closes in just under a fortnight.
Sunderland fan? Bored? Try get 100% on this 22 question quiz all about Black Cats transfer deals from over the years
Lee Johnson’s side will be firmly focused on the short-term task that lies ahead of them tomorrow though and with their south-west London opponents getting off to a decent start, Sunderland will know the magnitude of the task they face.
In a bid to recover from their midweek loss at the Pirelli Stadium, 40-year-old Johnson may decide to make a few changes with the new signings potentially coming into the fold.
With this in mind, we have picked the starting lineup we think could be announced at 2pm tomorrow.
In goal, Lee Burge retains his place between the sticks as a safe pair of hands, although there have been rumours surrounding the possible return of Vito Mannone, who would most likely come in and take the 28-year-old’s starting spot. For now though, a move is not reported to be close and he starts once again.
New signing Dennis Cirkin gets another go at left-back, with Carl Winchester taking the right-back spot in the absence of a right-back signing. This will be a key priority for manager Johnson to address before the window closes, but he looks set to start there again with the boss wanting Luke O’Nien to remain in midfield.
In the middle, Manchester City loanee Callum Doyle has put in a great shift for Sunderland so far despite only being 17 and looks set to be a priceless asset for the Black Cats throughout the 2021/22 campaign, barring any injuries or suspensions.
Tom Flanagan starts alongside him again despite the arrival of West Ham man Frederick Alves – although he will be expected to take the former’s place in the starting 11 sooner rather than later.
Luke O’Nien continues in midfield as a key player for the Wearside club in the absence of injured captain Corry Evans, with the impressive youngster Daniel Neil starting alongside him again. They need to get him tied down for the long-term, because he looks like a very exciting individual in the middle of the park already at just 19 years old.
The experienced Aiden McGeady starts on the left after finishing top of the third-tier assists chart last season, despite only starting to play regularly for the Black Cats in December, he’s a man they can count on to create goalscoring chances throughout games.
Elliot Embleton will also be a source of creativity once again in a more advanced midfield position, with Alex Pritchard coming in on the right to replace Lyndon Gooch who was disappointing in midweek.
Pritchard was brilliant at Brentford in his younger playing days – and he will be hoping to kickstart his career at the Stadium of Light with a promotion push on the agenda once again.
And the man who will be hoping to bang in the goals tomorrow afternoon up top is Ross Stewart, who now has competition for Everton loanee Nathan Broadhead for his spot.
For now, Stewart keeps his place but he will need to maintain his performance levels if he wants to be Charlie Wyke’s replacement for the long term.