Amidst some very poor form and disappointing results, Sunderland go to Joey Barton’s tricky Fleetwood side in desperate need of a result to lift the mood.
GK: Lee Burge. Although Remi Matthews has proved to be adequate backup in recent weeks, Burge is still likely to regain his place if he’s fit and ready to play again. Neither of our goalkeepers have faced a huge number of shots this season, but Fleetwood may challenge either Burge or Matthews more than most teams in this division.
RWB: Luke O’Nien. The ex-Wycombe man has nailed down his spot at wingback despite the presence of Conor McLaughlin. I think it’s safe to call O’Nien an experienced defender now, rather than the makeshift central midfielder that he once was.
CB: Conor McLaughlin. After a very impressive performance at the Keepmoat Stadium, McLaughlin will keep his place at centre back, especially with Willis still out with a knee injury.
CB: Bailey Wright. Despite an error that led to Doncaster’s equaliser, Wright is clearly a leader on the pitch and has experience at a higher level. He’ll be determined to right some wrongs after last week’s mistake.
CB: Tom Flanagan. Like Wright, Flanagan was arguably to blame for allowing Doncaster to put the ball in the box last week. However, Parkinson is expected to stick with the Northern Irishman despite the young Dion Sanderson on the bench. We know Phil doesn’t like to change things up, so will likely stick with what he knows defensively.
LWB: Denver Hume. Interestingly, McFadzean is back in training which will ramp up the pressure on Hume. He’s been getting into good positions recently, so hopefully he can add some quality to his final balls to help create chances from the wings.
CM: Grant Leadbitter. Probably our best player this season, Grant has proved people wrong week after week. Even in a two man midfield last week he managed to look comfortable and wasn’t overran. His screamer against Donny highlights why a player of Leadbitter’s calibre has to be involved week in week out.
CM: Josh Scowen. Nicknamed “The Rat”, last week was the best example of what Scowen can do best. Covering every blade of grass and looking very combative, that tenacity is exactly what we need to challenge an undoubtedly aggressive Joey Barton side.
RW: Elliot Embleton. With recent news that Lynden Gooch has a broken foot, this could be the moment Parkinson is forced into trying out some academy graduates. Embleton had one or two bright moments in a brief stint last weekend, and the youngster’s set piece threat from both feet is undoubtedly a great weapon to have in our arsenal.
LW: Chris Maguire. One of the most disappointing players so far this season, Maguire really needs to look interested tomorrow night. As we know, he’s one of the best players in the league on his day, but he needs a bit of motivation to get going- perhaps this is due to the lack of fans in stadiums.
ST: Charlie Wyke. Although Wyke didn’t look at the races on the weekend, it’s a battle between himself and Danny Graham as to who starts up top as a target man. Wyke’s already bagged a few goals this season, so Phil Parkinson may stick with his big man from Middlesbrough.