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

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Sunderland earned an impressive 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday on Friday evening in their League One play-off semi final first leg.

Ross Stewart grabbed the only goal of the game to silence his doubters and the concerns over the absence of Nathan Broadhead at the top of the pitch.

Wednesday have been very strong at home this season and the Black Cats will need to step up to the challenge in a cauldron-like Hillsborough Stadium this evening.

Alex Neil has a lot to consider going into the second leg, with the performance and result at the Stadium of Light providing plenty of food for thought when picking a team to cement a place in the final.

Here, we have taken a look at three dilemmas facing Neil ahead of Wednesday clash this evening…

Balance

Neil has certainly been more pragmatic than Lee Johnson at Sunderland this season, and that could lead to a tendency to hold onto the advantage that the Black Cats already have in this semi final, rather than potentially pushing to double their lead.

Sunderland asserted their authority very early on in the first leg, with Patrick Roberts and Alex Pritchard looking dangerous throughout.

The Owls have the attacking quality to turn the tie around if they are on top for extended periods, so it is an interesting one for Neil to approach with the aggregate score as it is.

Elliot Embleton or Patrick Roberts

Roberts only made six starts in the second half of the season on Wearside but he caused some problems in a flexible number ten role in the first leg.

With Neil hoping to establish more control as the tie goes on, Elliot Embleton may be preferred to the 25-year-old, offering a more rigid attacking midfielder option, also with positive experiences to draw from in the play-offs in recent years.

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Aiden McGeady plan

The plan may be for McGeady not to be needed, and for a clean sheet to carry the Black Cats into the final.

Aiden McGeady has not played in the league since late November, and the Irishman could be expected to drag Sunderland out of trouble as an impact substitute, if needed this evening.

It is important that Neil does not ask too much of the 36-year-old, with his defensive work rate not to the same level as the other attacking players in the squad.


Passionate Football League obsessive and long-suffering Charlton Athletic supporter.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

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

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