Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson will look to bounce back after his side’s opening day draw with Bristol Rovers as the Black Cats travel to Oxford this afternoon.
After missing out on promotion last term, Parkinson would have been hoping for his side to get off to the best possible start against Rovers last weekend. However, an early goal from the visitors at the Stadium of Light preceded a late equaliser from Chris Maguire, while George Dobson be sent off in added time.
Dobson’s absence through suspension will no doubt be the biggest selection dilemma for Parkinson ahead of the tie with potential promotion rivals Oxford.
Lee Burge was guilty of a mistake against Rovers but he is expected to continue between the sticks against Oxford, whilst the back three will remain unchanged with Tom Flanagan, Bailey Wright and Jordan Willis all featuring.
Luke O’Nien and Denver Hume will likely continue in the wing-back roles, providing both cover going backwards and forwards.
Max Power admitted that he was enjoying his advanced midfield role following the game against Rovers and he can expect to remain in the centre of midfield, potentially alongside either Lynden Gooch or Grant Leadbitter – the former may just get the nod in place of Dobson.
Maguire must start, given that he scored the all-important equaliser last weekend, whilst Aiden O’Brien’s encouraging display last week (four shots, two key passes) is unlikely to see him axed.
Will Grigg, Charlie Wyke and Danny Graham are all in contention for the starting centre-forward role and it could be that Parkinson opts for the latter after handing chances to both Grigg and Wyke already through pre-season and last weekend.
Just two changes from last week, then, as Gooch comes in for Dobson in midfield and Graham gets the nod ahead of Grigg up top.
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