In Lee Johnson’s first proper game as Sunderland manager (he’d only just taken over before the Wigan game, so that doesn’t count), will the new gaffer pick a strong squad in the Papa John’s Trophy or will the youth be entrusted in taking us through to the next round?
GK: Anthony Patterson. Lee Burge is clearly our first choice again in goal, and with Remi Matthews looking on Lee Camp levels of bad Johnson is likely to give the young keeper a start tonight.
RB: Dion Sanderson. Luke O’Nien’s injury means that Conor McLaughlin is our only experienced fullback, but at Bristol City Lee Johnson notoriously utilised the loan market very well. He may look to our only loanee to cover McLaughlin in the upcoming weeks, featuring in cup games at least.
CB: Bailey Wright. Recently, Wright has made several errors that have led to goals. The Aussie was Johnson’s captain at Bristol so he’ll likely remain faithful to the defender. Perhaps the best way to remove Wright’s mistakes from his game is to play him through this bad patch.
CB: Brandon Taylor. Next to Wright, Taylor could really benefit from being talked through the game by an experienced head. He hasn’t had much game time yet, but he’s a regular in the youth sides which suggests Taylor does have some promise.
LB: Callum McFadzean. Denver Hume is out for a number of weeks now, which leaves McFadzean as our only left back option. He caused Wigan’s defence problems and will hope to attack more again tonight.
RM: Jack Diamond. On Saturday, Diamond featured from the bench and tonight I expect he’ll be given a start out wide by Johnson. We have lots of options in midfield, meaning Jack has to impress in these cup games.
CM: George Dobson. It’s fair to say George Dobson was not at his fittest last time he played, but in this low-intensity match it is the ideal chance for him to build up match fitness. The midfield three of Leadbitter, Power and Scowen are nailed on starters at the moment, so Dobson’s competition could provide motivation for the starters to perform in the league.
CM: Dan Neil. Lee Johnson is likely to give some of the youngsters a chance in the Papa John's Trophy against The Latics and Dan Neil has impressed in pre season and the under 23 side so he may see a start this evening as the new gaffer switches things up.
LM: Elliot Embleton. Lee Johnson has spoke about adding pace and directness to the team, and the pair of Embleton and Diamond are much more direct and quicker than McGeady and Maguire. Embleton has had a lot of minutes from the bench recently, and will use today to earn a start on Saturday.
ST: Charlie Wyke. Wyke was back in training and will be in the squad tonight, and it’s just a matter of starting him or bringing him on. Considering Wyke’s previous injury history, it would be wise to play him tonight to ease him back into league fixtures.
ST: Danny Graham. Will Grigg was given another chance against Wigan, but failed to make a huge impact. It would be nice to have some pace up top, but with Aiden O’Brien flattering to deceive, Graham could be the next in line to start up top in what looks like an incredibly immobile front two.