Chris Maguire really is the man of the moment for Sunderland. The veteran forward was the man who came off the bench and volleyed home the only goal of the game at the Stadium of Light in the first leg of their playoff semi-final against Portsmouth, and he’ll be key against Fratton Park for sure.
In that first clash, Jack Ross opted to start with a front three of Lynden Gooch and Lewis Morgan out wide with Charlie Wyke in the middle. This time around, though, the Mackems can forget about Lewis Morgan and should instead be getting behind the ever impressive Maguire instead, as his antics and ability in front of goal should make him the man to turn the Fratton Park tie Sunderland’s way.
Had Alim Ozturk not been sent-off, a decision which has since been overturned, then Maguire would have been able to go forward with more freedom in the final 20 minutes of the first leg of the playoff clash, and he may have been able to add a second goal to the Black Cats lead. As it was, though, the Wearside outfit had to settle for a narrow one-goal lead, leaving it all to play for on the south coast.
The chances are Maguire will be the man that Kenny Jackett and the Portsmouth squad are focusing on nullifying and for good reason. The 30-year-old is a menacing player to come up against and his ability to score goals from out wide is impressive at this level. Nine goals and seven assists have come from the Scotsman’s boots, and his goal tally could well tick over into double figures at Fratton Park.
It’s hard to be against Maguire (valued at an impressive £405k by Transfermarkt these days) having a massive impact if he’s chosen to start, and with Lewis Morgan failing to deliver much in the first leg before he was hooked just shy of the hour mark, it’s tough to justify starting the young Celtic loanee ahead of Maguire. Whatever happens, it will be an interesting game for the neutral, and both Pompey and the Mackems will be on the edge of their seats.
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