Lee Burge’s strong performances will have been a boost to Sunderland with potential international commitments on the horizon for McLaughlin, but the Scot will clearly start the season as one of the most important names on the teamsheet.

The strongest Sunderland XI as it stands as League One opener nears

With just one pre-season game left before the visit of Oxford United, the starting XI Jack Ross wants to name will be starting to take shape.

Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 4:56 pm

He has been extensively trialing new systems in pre-season and it looks like it could well be a back three for the opening day. In his weekly column, Phil Smith takes a guess at the XI as things stand and a closer look at the big decisions still to be made...

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