After the defeat to Ipswich Town, Simon Grayson admitted he had made changes in the hope that it might stir something, that the cards might fall in his team’s favour.
The end result was an organisational mess, leaving the Black Cats boss with big questions to ponder ahead of a now critical game with Preston North End...
Oviedo back to left-back?
The Costa Rican has had a difficult week, picked apart by Cardiff City’s Nathaniel Mendez-Laing before performing better when moved into a left-wing position,
In that role at Portman Road, however, he struggled to make any attacking inroads and was easily brushed out of the game by Dominic Iorfa. The 27-year-old was carrying a knock but if fit, it is surely time to put him in his strongest position on the left of a back four.
He looked to be approaching something close to his best form against Nottingham Forest, a game where Sunderland were defensively sound for the most part. That would also allow for Adam Matthews to return to his favoured right-back position.
At the heart of defence, he will surely be considering changes again after Lamine Kone and Marc Wilson’s struggles.
What to do in midfield?
One of Grayson’s changes was to freshen things in midfield, with Lee Cattermole and Didier Ndong’s early-season promise somewhat fading as Sunderland’s form dipped.
Ndong has played the vast majority of minutes for the Black Cats and so resting him was reasonable, but Darron Gibson was unable to bring presence or drive to the midfield.
Ndong will surely return, but will Cattermole keep his place? Jonny Williams could offer a different dimension in that position but Grayson will not want to leave his defence exposed after the horror show at Portman Road, particularly if Aiden McGeady continues in a central position.
Return for Ruiter?
A devastated Jason Steele will be desperate to keep his place in the side and it leaves another big call for Grayson, with Robbin Ruiter seemingly finding his feet before surprisingly being dropped.
Bringing back the Dutchman is the obvious choice but it remains to be seen whether his confidence will have been affected.