McGeady? Grigg? Diamond?: The Sunderland team our writers would pick for the Lincoln City clash

Sunderland head to Lincoln City this weekend – with Lee Johnson facing some major selection dilemmas ahead of the game.

Saturday, 12th December 2020, 10:00 am

After a midweek win in which academy graduates Anthony Patterson and Jack Diamond shone, the Black Cats’ new head coach will have to decide whether to stick or twist ahead of the visit to League One’s surprise package.

There also big decisions to be made up front, with Charlie Wyke returning to the fray, while Dion Sanderson will also come into contention at the back.

So what team would our writers pick? Phil Smith and Mark Donnelly have had their say on the big dilemmas facing Johnson and explain the teams they would pick for the big game:

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The Sunderland team our writers would pick for the Lincoln City clash

Phil Smith

This is going to be a very different test for Sunderland, after two games in which they've had the majority of possession and the task has been to break the opposition down.

Lincoln City are a good side and Lee Johnson's pre-match remarks strongly suggested that he's expecting a fairly end-to-end contest.

He actually thinks that might suit his side, who will have an opportunity to counter in a way that hasn't been there of late.

Some element of continuity will be key, though, and so I'd expect much of the personnel to be the same as Johnson looks to embed his principles.

The two big decisions are who he goes with up front and out wide.

Up front, I'd like to see Will Grigg get a chance to keep building some momentum after a good performance in the week, and having Charlie Wyke on the bench gives a good chance to change things up through the game.

I'm sticking with Jack Diamond, as I think that capacity to stretch the opposition will be key.

Phil’s XI: Burge; McLaughlin, Wright, Flanagan, McFadzean; Leadbitter, Scowen, Power; Diamond, McGeady, Grigg

Mark Donnelly

While the performance on Tuesday evening has to be caveated with the fact it came against a League Two side, there were plenty of positives to take from the tie.

And the fact that Lee Johnson opted against an overhaul of his side suggests that he is keen to stick with a settled line-up - at least for the early weeks of his reign, as he looks to develop some real cohesion.

So I wouldn't expect too many changes at Sincil Bank.

Indeed, I'd make just the one with Lee Burge returning between the sticks.

That is no slight on the performance of Anthony Patterson, who impressed in midweek, but experience may be required in this particular department against an opponent in fine form.

But at the other end of the field, I'd be tempted to stick with Jack Diamond out wide. He offers Sunderland a different attacking option and Aiden McGeady could provide an interesting player to use from the bench.

I'd also stick with Will Grigg up top. His performance at Oldham was encouraging and hopefully things will click for him soon.

Mark’s XI: Burge; McLaughlin, Wright, Flanagan, McFadzean; Leadbitter, Power, Scowen; Diamond, Maguire, Grigg

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