Sunderland v Fleetwood: The five selection dilemmas facing Jack Ross

For perhaps the first time in his tenure, Jack Ross will have a serious selection headache.

Friday, 7th September 2018, 10:13 am
Updated Friday, 7th September 2018, 10:26 am
Jack Ross has some decisions to make

With several Sunderland stars returning from injury - and those who have been starting impressing thus far - there will be plenty of deliberation as to who should start when Fleetwood visit the Stadium of Light tomorrow.

The likes of Charlie Wyke, Jerome Sinclair and Dylan McGeouch will all be knocking on the door after returning from injury, but will have to prove to the Sunderland boss that they are worthy of a place ahead of those who have excelled in their absence.

Jack Ross has some decisions to make

LIVE: Updates on Djilobodji and Ndong in our live blogSuch tough decisions highlight the fantastic work done by Ross and his staff in building a squad with plenty of depth - but could give the Scot a fair few headaches.

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Here’s the five main dilemmas facing the Sunderland chief ahead of the visit of the Cod Army:

Who should start at full-back?

With Bryan Oviedo away on international duty, the Black Cats will be forced into at least one change at full-back.

Glenn Loovens could be in line for a return

Oviedo and Love occupied the wide defensive positions during the draw with Oxford, but Ross could be tempted to switch things up completely.

MORE: Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers offers key advice to Jack RossDenver Hume impressed at right-back in Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy clash and will no doubt have put himself in contention after a standout display.

However, Love, who was rested in midweek, could well be handed a recall while Adam Matthews is set to return from injury.

There’s three good options for Ross, with all having proven they can do a job this seaosn.

Could Charlie Wyke be handed a start?

Is a centre back reshuffle in order?

Alim Ozturk and the fit again Tom Flanagan started in midweek, but Ross could be tempted to completely switch the centre back pairing.

There’s arguably no doubt that Jack Baldwin will start, with the ex-Peterborough man putting in a string of stellar displays in recent weeks.

But who will partner him remains to be seen.

READ: Jack Ross won't let Papy Djilobodji's return ruin squad harmonyGlenn Loovens is set to return from injury while Tom Flanagan looked impressive on Tuesday night, giving Ross a decision to make.

Either would provide a good option - while Ozturk may have to be content with a bit-part role.

What about the centre of the park?

Again, Sunderland will be forced into one change from their last League One outing with Max Power suspended.

Bali Mumba will also miss out as he is away on international duty but Lee Cattermole - impressive in recent weeks - will likely retain his place.

His likely midfield partner is Dylan McGeouch, who lasted the full 90 minutes against Stoke City U21s on Tuesday evening.

MORE: Fleetwood striker Ched Evans has this warning for SunderlandLuke O’Nien and Ethan Robson are other potential options - while George Honeyman could also be dropped deeper.

This could prove to be one of Ross’ easier decisions, though, with McGeouch and Cattermole on paper a strong pairing.

Who will start up top?

This could be the toughest decision facing Ross, with a real abundance of quality to choose from.

Charlie Wyke naturally fits the number nine role but, with the striker still not at full fitness, Ross may wish to use him as an impact player from the bench - as he did during the Oxford game.

Josh Maja has been impressive in the early games and is the obvious choice given his fine goalscoring form of late.

LIVE: Updates on Djilobodji and Ndong in our live blogLoanee Jerome Sinclair could also be in the thoughts of Ross after his return from injury, but this game may come too soon for the youngster.

That means the decision seems to come down to Wyke or Maja - although the Sunderland boss may be able to accommodate both as he did on Tuesday evening.

Could we see some changes out wide?

Lynden Gooch and Chris Maguire have been lively in the early games of the season, but making some switches in the wide attacking areas could allow Ross to accommodate both Wyke and Maja.

Maja could be shifted out wide with Wyke down the middle, but that would mean that Ross would then have to sacrifice one of Gooch or Maguire.

Arguably, neither have performed at a level which warrants them being dropped - leaving the Sunderland manager with yet another big headache.