The big selection calls for Jack Ross as Sunderland prepare for another 'cup final'

Shrewsbury Town boss John Askey says his players must treat Saturday's clash with Sunderland as a 'cup final'.

Friday, 19th October 2018, 1:17 pm
Updated Friday, 19th October 2018, 1:23 pm
George Honeyman look set to return to the Sunderland side on Saturday

The Black Cats are taking another bumper following on the road, something which Jack Ross believes can inspire opposition fans and players as well as his own team.

Defender Omar Beckles admits that the Shrews will be 'pinching themselves' in what will feel like a cup tie.

Ross believes his side are getting better and better at dealing with the 'intensity' of being such a scalp in League One and will hope that they continue their promising form at New Meadow.

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However, injuries and suspension mean that the Sunderland boss does have a few dilemmas to consider...

Who replaces Max Power?

Max Power's red card at Bradford City was all the more frustrating given the way the midfielder had controlled the game in the first half.

Power's qualities and experience are obvious but Ross will now have to look elsewhere for four games.

Providing he sticks with the same shape used in the last two games, that means one spot for George Honeyman or Dylan McGeouch.

Both did well after coming off the bench at Bradford City and Ross had special praise for captain Honeyman.

"Every player that came off the bench made a really good contribution on Saturday, and I would highlight George," Ross said.

"His reaction, when we were down to ten men, was brilliant, he covered a lot of grass.

"There is a good healthy competition and good players respond to that and want to keep it and respond to it."

Honeyman went on to star in the Checkatrade trophy win over Carlisle, scoring once and impressing with his all-round play.

Luke O'Nien will likely be in the squad and it would be no surprise to see Bali Mumba make his return, either.

Ross admitted last week that he has been keen to reintroduce him after some impressive training displays.

"He's been a little bit unfortunate in the last couple of games not to come on, to be honest, just because of how those games went," Ross said.

"He's been training really well. He had a little bit of a dip but then kicked on again, which was brilliant for us to see.

"He was very much in my thoughts for the Peterborough and Bradford games.

"Not just in terms of being on the bench but in my planning for getting him on the pitch.

"But the way the games have went, the changes we had to make, it wasn't quite right for him."

Is there room for Lynden Gooch?

Lynden Gooch has been one of Sunderland's most impressive performers this season.

He has brought pace, drive and genuine end product.

Four assists and three league goals has marked him out as one of the league's most threatening players.

After a short injury lay-off he has trained all week and so is fit for selection as the Black Cats travel to Shrewsbury.

Whether he plays from the start remains to be seen.

In his absence Jerome Sinclair and Aiden McGeady have got valuable minutes under their belt, while the side have moved away slightly from the lopsided 3-5-2 in which Gooch thrived.

Chris Maguire has been an influential presence drifting in from the right, so Ross may be tempted to stick with his most recent attacking options.

The big positive for Ross is that whoever he picks, he will have a genuinely game-changing option on the bench.

Same again in defence?

The Black Cats boss perhaps has his easiest decision to make when it comes to the make-up of his defence.

Glenn Loovens remains out with injury, while Bryan Oviedo has two games to serve on his suspension.

Tom Flanagan only returned from international duty on Thursday but after a sequence of impressive performances, he will surely rekindle his partnership with Jack Baldwin.

The encouraging form of Adam Matthews and Reece James means Ross will have few concerns in the full-back department.