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The Sunderland XI Ross must field to earn 3 points against Walsall

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Sunderland face a tough test if they are going to break into the automatic promotion places in League One over their remaining ten matches.

Jack Ross’s side currently sit in third place, four points outside the top two but with a game in hand, although Barnsley and Luton show no signs of slowing their own promotion pushes.

Last week saw the Black Cats held to a 0-0 draw with the Tykes in a huge, but ultimately dull, affair at Oakwell.

This weekend sees Sunderland face Walsall at the Stadium of Light in a match that they will be confident of winning.

So, with Barnsley travelling to Doncaster Rovers on Friday night, here is the line-up Ross must field against the Saddlers…

Goalkeeper: Jon McLaughlin

An easy choice.

McLaughlin has been brilliantly solid since making the move to the club back in the summer, and it would be a huge shock to see him dropped.

Left-back: Adam Matthews

Matthews has been a reliable presence across the back-line so far this season and should start again tomorrow.

His future seems to rest on promotion being achieved but until anything is decided he should keep his place.

Centre-back: Jimmy Dunne

The Black Cats have limited options in the centre of defence at the moment.

Dunne has played been rather inconsistent since arriving during the January window but Ross may have no other choice.

Title

Baldwin has had a shaky period over the last couple of months, but on the whole has had an excellent season.

He is the best available choice for the Black Cats and should be starting.

Right-back: Luke O’Nien

The versatile midfielder has been outstanding since arriving from Wycombe in the summer.

Playing in a host of positions, Ross has revealed that he will be on the right of Sunderland’s defence this Saturday and you have to fancy him to step up to the plate.

Defensive-midfield: Grant Leadbitter

This looks like a really clever bit of January business.

The veterans set-piece deliveries have been causing havoc and his presence in midfield has already made him close to undroppable.

Defensive-midfield: Max Power

Power has had a decent if unspectacular season.

But he has put his ill-discipline behind him and will be a crucial presence to link defence with attack at the Stadium of Light.

”Left-wing:

The Irishman is a cut above in League One.

With him in their side Sunderland always have a chance of winning and it would be bizarre for Ross to drop him.

Attacking-midfield: Lynden Gooch

The American has had a brilliant season across the creative areas.

With Power dropping deeper to provide a midfield spark, Gooch should occupy the area behind the striker.

Right-wing: Lewis Morgan

Slightly out of position, but the Celtic loanee should hack it.

He has done well since joining in the January window and he will surely up his game ahead of the crucial season run in.

Striker: Will Grigg

A few nerves are beginning to rattle surrounding Grigg.

Many expected him to come in and score at least once per game for the rest of the season. That has not been the case but given his record at this level, he will surely keep his place.

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