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The Sunderland dilemmas facing Alex Neil ahead of huge Sheffield Wednesday clash tonight

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Sunderland face a huge game in their pursuit of promotion from League One tonight, as they host Sheffield Wednesday at the Stadium of Light, in the first leg of their play-off semi final.

Alex Neil’s side go into the game on the back of a brilliant run that saw them lose just once in the 15 games they had played since his appointment as manager.

But while that will give them confidence, Sheffield Wednesday’s own form will also be something of a concern for those of a Sunderland persuasion going into this one.

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The Owls finished one position and one point above Sunderland in the regular season table, and lost just three of their last 20 games, with an excellent second half of the season securing their top six place.

This therefore, will not be an easy game for the hosts, and there are plenty of issues for Neil to consider ahead of kick-off.

So with that in mind, we’ve taken a look at two Sunderland dilemmas that Neil is facing coming into this semi-final first leg.

Does he risk Nathan Broadhead

When fit and aviailable, Nathan Broadhead has been in outstanding form for Sunderland this season, scoring 13 goals in 25 appearances in all competitions since joining on loan from Everton last summer.

However, the young attacker was forced off early on through injury in the Black Cats final game of the regular season at Morecambe, and Neil has since revealed that a late call will have to be made on whether he features against Wednesday at the Stadium of Light.

That is a decision that is unlikely to be easy for Neil, given Broadhead could help Sunderland make a strong start to the tie here, but could equally risk him making his injury worse, that might prevent him from contributing at a time when the Black Cats need him to more later on this tie, or even in the final.

Finding the right approach

Given there is a great deal of football to be played over the two legs, Neil will have to consider how he approaches this one carefully, since he may not want to take too many risks that give anything away early on.

The flip side to that however, is that Sheffield Wednesday have been excellent at home this season, picking up more points than any other team in League One on their own turf.

That may mean Sunderland need to get something here before Monday’s second leg at Hillsborough, putting the pressure on them to be more aggressive in their approach in an attempt to take an advantage, than they may ordinarily in want to be so early in a tie with so much at stake.


UCLan Sports Journalism graduate, been writing for Football League World since March 2019. I've previously worked for the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Opta, among others.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: The Sunderland dilemmas facing Alex Neil ahead of huge Sheffield Wednesday clash tonight

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