That was always going to be the case given that Sunderland' s clear priority is League One promotion, but an early run in the Carabao Cup only heightens the need to protect some senior players.
At Sincil Bank there will be a blend of senior and U23 players, with a number of the former away on international duty.
Elliott Dickman's side also play an important league game against West Brom on Monday night, meaning there is a need to find a balance to ensure both teams are competitive.
There will undoubtedly be chances for a good core of his group, however, and those openings could yet increase significantly in the remaining group games.
So with that in mind, we run you through a (not exhaustive) guide to some fo the players you could see feature...
1. JACOB CARNEY
The early stages of the Papa John's Trophy campaign will likely mean a good chance for Lee Burge to get gametime.
But you'd expect Sunderland to include a young goalkeeper in the squad and Carney, signed from Manchester United in the summer, fits the bill.
He was expected to take Anthony Patterson's role as moving between the U23s and senior set up, but his early progress was checked by a finger injury.
Fit again now, he faces competition over the season from Jack McIntyre, who recently joined from Everton.
Photo: JPI Media
2. KENTON RICHARDSON
An experienced U23 player who featured regularly for Hartlepool United at senior level.
Had hoped to push for first-team contention last year but had dreadful luck with injury. Been a regular so far this season and has looked the solid full-back you would expect.
Will hope for a chance to kick on further now.
Photo: FRANK REID 2020
3. OLLIE YOUNGER
Younger is well known to Sunderland supporters after making a senior breakthrough last season, albeit ought of position at right back.
He made a good impression in that role but generally he's a traditional defender and much stronger in the middle.
Regularly around the senior environment, his form was sufficient to earn a new deal over the summer.
The U23s have had a very tough start to the season defensively, and Younger will be keen to take this chance to make another impression.
Photo: FRANK REID 2020
4. PATRICK ALMOND
Almond made rapid progress above his age group in the U23s last year, and is now a key part of the side.
Having made the bench in the competition last year he may hope to go one better this time around.
It's been a tough start for Dickman's side who have shipped far too many goals, but it will have been a good learning curve for Almond.
He's physically imposing but has devent recovery pace and is happy to step out in possession.
A strong prospect.
Photo: Frank Reid