Sunderland finished their League One opener against Charlton Athletic on Saturday like an express train, Lynden Gooch’s fantastic header getting Jack Ross’ side off to a dream start to the season.
They will be looking to build on that with another positive result at Luton Town tomorrow, but despite the Charlton victory, Ross still has a number of selection dilemmas.
1. What formation should he pick?
Ross has played 4-3-3 all pre-season, setting his side up in his preferred formation with a midfield orchestrator and plenty of width and movement.
However, 45 minutes into the first competitive game, the Black Cats boss switched to a 3-5-2 with his players struggling to match Charlton’s system.
It reaped instant dividends. Sunderland were excellent in the second period at the Stadium of Light, putting Charlton on the back foot. Chris Maguire thrived behind the front two, Bryan Oviedo offered pace and width at left wing-back, while the central defensive partnership of Glenn Loovens and Alim Ozturk – which had looked ropey – were more secure with Adam Matthews slotting in alongside them.
Does Ross stick with that system or return to his favoured formation for the trip to Kenilworth Road?
2. Debut for Baldwin?
Jack Baldwin missed out last weekend, a lack of match action working against him after his signing from Peterborough.
But with Loovens and Ozturk struggling, Ross must be tempted to hand Baldwin his debut tomorrow.
Loovens and Ozturk both lack pace and it remains to be seen whether they can play together. Baldwin in, Ozturk out seems a likely move.
3. Midfield make-up
If the majority of Sunderland’s starting XI struggled in the first half last week, the midfield looked a particular problem.
Bali Mumba was handed his first start in the absence of Dylan McGeouch and with the ex-Hibs man still injured, the 16-year-old could keep his place.
Jack Ross now has Max Power at his disposal after the Wigan man completed his move today, but after handing Luke O’Nien a start just days after he joined from MK Dons, he was forced to substituite him at half-time after the player struggled in his new surroundings. O’Nien now has had an extra week with his new team-mates, so does he hand him another start or throw Power into the fray? And then there’s Lee Cattermole...