Following the disappointment at Wembley the lads are straight back into league action on Wednesday night against Accrington Stanley, but should Jack Ross make any changes?
Sunderland will look to get back to winning ways against Stanley and push closer towards the top two in League One.
With 120 minutes of action and penalties on Sunday, it was clear to see that the squad were both physically and mentally exhausted. Ross may well need to rotate the squad to bring in some fresh legs for the final run in.
Starting at the back, it’s very unlikely that we’ll see a change in goal despite Jon McLaughlin’s error, he’s arguably Sunderland’s signing of the season and has been brilliant between the sticks.
Defensively, there could be a few changes, Denver Hume came on for the injured Reece James on Sunday and could make his fourth start to the season after returning from a long injury layoff. It’d be a surprise to see wholesale changes in the defence, but Jimmy Dunne may see this as a chance to get back in the team and cement a place in the line-up for the rest of the season. Jack Baldwin would be most likely to drop out due to his performance so far this campaign.
If Adam Matthews was back fit, it would be more likely that Luke O’Nien would drop out for the Welshman. O’Nien has been brilliant filling in at right back and had made the position his own, but after some uncertain performances, Ross may be tempted to replace him with Matthews.
After Lee Cattermole’s penalty miss on Sunday, he will no doubt be eager to redeem himself and put in a good performance, although, in the midfield there is the availability to make several changes. Grant Leadbitter was brought off in extra time and could potentially make way for Max Power or Dylan McGeouch. However, because of his quality deliveries from set pieces Ross may be reluctant to give him a rest.
George Honeyman has had some stick for not stepping up for a penalty this week but will drop out of the team as he serves the last game of his suspension. This gives Ross a dilemma, does he go conservative and play Power in the more advanced role or play Charlie Wyke up top with Grigg? It would be ideal for Chris Maguire to play in the role, but with the Scot still recovering from a leg break it’s unlikely that he’ll be risked.
On the wings, Aiden McGeady’s spot in the team is the safest it has ever been, after a brilliant performance against Portsmouth he’s simply too good to leave out. Lewis Morgan played 73 minutes so he should still be fresh enough to go again, however, Lynden Gooch will no doubt be looking to take his place and recapture his early season form. It’d be surprising to see Morgan out of the team, as he’s looked much more of a threat than Gooch in recent weeks and it seems Ross trusts him.
It’s hard to judge Will Grigg’s time at Sunderland, in the early weeks he was getting in good areas but failing to put the chances away. Now the opportunities seem to have dried up and he’s often incredibly isolated - it’s tough to know where to place the blame. On one hand, the midfield should be doing a bit more to help the striker, yet Grigg still needs to create chances of his own. Recent strikers like Defoe and Maja didn’t necessarily do a lot of work off the ball, but when they got it, they made a difference.
I don’t believe that Ross has enough faith in Wyke to lead the line on his own, but he may be needed if Grigg can’t produce the goods. Wyke hasn’t looked too bad in his last substitute cameos and has assisted two goals. Ross seemed to elude that Grigg still wasn’t fully fit, if he’s not able to play twice in four days then it may be time to start Wyke again. Another option is Kazaiah Sterling who is yet to start a game for the lads, if Grigg is unfit he may get his chance.
If it was up to me, I’d play Grigg and Wyke up top together and really go for the win.
Predicted XI: McLaughlin; O’Nien, Dunne, Flanagan, Hume; Power, Cattermole, Morgan, McGeady; Wyke, Grigg