This is how Sunderland will approach selection for their Manchester United U21s cup clash

Lee Johnson has led Sunderland's preparations for the Papa John's Trophy clash with Manchester United U21s on Wednesday evening, but is likely to field a side of predominantly U23 players.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 3:55 pm

The Black Cats had not wanted to play the fixture on this date, due to the number of players away on international duty and the close proximity of a crucial league fixture against Gillingham this Saturday.

But United's preference won out and as such, Johnson has previously said that he could be forced to take a club fine.

The competition rules state that every side must name four 'qualifying' outfield players, the criteria for which directly relates to first-team involvment in other fixtures.

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Stephen Wearne celebrates his goal against Lincoln City last week

Sunderland' s youngsters acquitted themselves superbly against a strong Lincoln City side last week, securing an impressive 2-1 win.

U23s boss Elliott Dickman, who will be involved again in the dugout alongside assistant Michael Proctor on Wednesday, rested a number of players in the 2-1 Premier League Cup win over Leeds on Sunday afternoon, anticipating their possible involvement here.

"The main thing is that the manager is going to pick a side that is going to be competitive," Dickman said.

"We are treating this is a first-team game, and the manager and his staff have led everything through the preparation, with us there to support.

"Whatever the manager decides in terms of who is in the actual XI, we'll be there to support them.

"We'll be there for the younger players and if there are any senior players involved, that will help them along as well.

"The good thing from our point of view is that if any of the lads who didn't play for us on Sunday aren't involved, then we have plenty of U23 games coming up for them.

"The big thing is that there is a hell of a lot of football coming up.

"The first team have got some tough games ahead, we've got lads away on international duty and a handful of injuries as well.

"The manager will pick the side that's best for the club moving forward."

Arbenit Xhemajli is not expected to be involved, with next week's U23s derby more likely to be his next outing as he continues his recovery from a serious knee injury.

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