Sunderland are set to ring the changes for this evening’s Papa John’s Trophy clash with Fleetwood Town.
The Shields Gazette are reporting that the Black Cats could be without as many as six first team players for the clash with Joey Barton’s side at Highbury.
Luke O’Nien and Denver Hume are among those to miss out as they continue to suffer with ‘minor knocks’, while Josh Scowen and Lynden Gooch will also be absent.
The duo missed the Saturday’s defeat against Manfield Town and won’t be risked.
Tom Flanagan and Conor McLaughlin will also miss out as they are away on international duty with Northern Ireland.
Sunderland have already qualified for the next round after recording victories over Carlisle United and Aston Villa under-21s in recent weeks, meaning that he could allow a number of young players to feature.
That means that Jack Diamond, Dan Neil, Elliot Embleton and Josh Hawkes are set for an opportunity to impress.
Quoted by the Shields Gazette, Parkinson said: “Our plans this week are to give some of our U23 players an opportunity tomorrow and there are three reasons for that.
“Firstly, they deserve it after their recent results for the U23s.
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“And thirdly, of course, we are through to the knockout stages of this competition already.”Secondly it gives us a chance to assess them playing at first-team level, which is good for the club and for everyone in the academy.
“The [selection] rules are quite forgiving, we’ve looked at those and players like Jack Diamond and Elliot Embleton count as senior players,” he added.
“There will be a couple of first-teamers involved, but the rest of the starting XI and the bench will all be young lads.”
It seems right that Phil Parkinson would shuffle the pack for this one.
As well as already qualifying for the next round of the Papa John’s Trophy, the Black Cats are in the middle of a particularly intense run of fixtures that shows little sign of easing.
Games will come thick and fast as the schedule looks to make up for the late start to the season, and that’s why it’s increasingly crucial that Parkinson manages his squad accordingly.
With another match this week it will give some first team players a vital opportunity to recover, while also giving an opportunity for players like Jack Diamond and Elliott Embleton to stake their claim.
With no risk involved, it seems like the smart thing to do.