Sunderland AFC: Who will Sam Allardyce name in his first Black Cats line-up?

Sunderland's Lee Cattermole (left) Jermain Defoe and Jack Rodwell (right)
Sunderland's Lee Cattermole (left) Jermain Defoe and Jack Rodwell (right)
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Sam Allardyce takes charge of Sunderland for the first time away to West Brom in the Premier League tomorrow.

But who will make his first starting line-up?

Ola Toivonen is an injury doubt for the West Brom game

Ola Toivonen is an injury doubt for the West Brom game

Sebastian Coates and Jeremain Lens are both suspended and Allardyce has injury concerns over Swedish midfielder Ola Toivonen.

We asked reporters Chris Young and Richard Mennear to predict what they think Big Sam’s first Sunderland side will look like.

And here’s how they got on...

Chris Young’s Sunderland line-up:

In an ideal world, I think Sam Allardyce would have liked to name an unchanged line-up at the Hawthorns.

Yes, Sunderland surrendered a two-goal advantage against his former club West Ham a fortnight ago, but that was the brightest the Black Cats have performed for a year or two.

Suspensions rob Allardyce of Sebastian Coates and Jeremain Lens tomorrow, yet there are two obvious replacements available again in Younes Kaboul and Adam Johnson.

With Wes Brown still unused this season, some will question the inclusion of Kaboul after his raft of mistakes, while perhaps Allardyce could sure up Sunderland’s midfield, rather than use Johnson as a like-for-like replacement for Lens.

But with Ola Toivonen an injury doubt due to a groin problem, there could be a window of opportunity for a Seb Larsson anyway.

Larsson hasn’t started since August, but his work-rate and doggedness will surely be assets that appeal to Allardyce in his quest to protect Sunderland’s back four.

Other than that, I expect Jermain Defoe to be restricted to a super-sub role at present, while it would be a major surprise to see Allardyce introduce a wild card such as Duncan Watmore.

Sunderland starting XI: Pantilimon, Yedlin, O’Shea, Kaboul, Jones, Cattermole, M’Vila, Larsson, Johnson, Borini, Fletcher.

Richard Mennear’s Sunderland line-up:

Sam Allardyce may have been appointed the new Sunderland boss a week ago but he has only had two days’ worth of training with his full squad.

Eleven players were away during the international break, leaving Allardyce with a reduced squad for the opening week of his time in charge.

While he will have had chance to hammer home some key points, Sunderland fans shouldn’t expect miracles ahead of the trip to West Brom tomorrow.

You’d expect there to be a reaction to Allardyce’s appointment but what team will Big Sam select?

There will be enforced changes from the side that drew 2-2 with West Ham United, Dick Advocaat’s final match in charge.

Sebastian Coates (five bookings) and Jeremain Lens (red card) are both suspended so the defence and midfield will have to be reshuffled.

I wouldn’t anticipate Allardyce wanting to make too many changes given the way Sunderland performed in the opening 45 minutes against the Hammers.

Allardyce is unlikely to take too many risks so the chances of Jack Rodwell starting in defence are slim, although I’d be tempted to give him a chance there over Younes Kaboul given his mistakes so far.

Two key issues that need addressing are what formation to play and how to get the best out of Jermain Defoe?

He was benched against West Ham and given Borini’s workrate and Fletcher’s scoring run for Scotland, Defoe is set to remain there, while Allardyce will be hoping Toivonen’s groin problem isn’t serious enough to keep him out.

Sunderland starting XI: (4-3-3) Pantilimon, Yedlin, O’Shea, Rodwell, Jones, Cattermole, M’Vila, Larsson, Toivonen, Borini, Fletcher.