Sunderland are playing host to Premier League side Fulham at the Stadium of Light as they look to seal their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The Black Cats have been forced to face the Cottagers for a second time after drawing the initial tie, at Craven Cottage, 1-1 in the fourth-round clash last month.
Will Sunderland be in the fifth round?
Tony Mowbray’s team come into the game off the back of a 1-1 draw with Millwall in the Championship last weekend and the manager may look to rotate his team to keep legs fresh and avoid further injury woes, after already losing Corry Evans and Ross Stewart for the season.
How many changes will the boss make to the side?
Here is Football FanCast’s predicted XI for the match…
We predict that the head coach will make three alterations to the side by bringing Pierre Ekwah, Alex Pritchard, and Jewison Bennette in to replace Edouard Michut, Jack Clarke, and Joe Gelhardt.
The goalkeeper and defence could stay the same from the draw with Millwall. Full-back Dennis Cirkin is unavailable due to concussion protocols, whilst Joe Anderson – who joined from Everton last month – is ineligible to play due to joining after the initial fixture, which means that neither of them can push for a place in the side.
In midfield, Ekwah could come in for Michut as a chance to showcase his ability for the first time since arriving from West Ham. FFC published an article explaining why the gem should be given an opportunity to shine, whilst it also allows the French midfielder to rest ahead of the weekend.
In the number ten position, Alex Pritchard could make his first start of the year after making his injury comeback off the bench against Millwall.
Only Ross Stewart (7.40) has averaged a higher Sofascore rating than the Englishman (7.03) in the Championship for the Black Cats this season and this suggests that the playmaker, who has created 1.9 chances per game this season, has been one of the side’s top performers.
Gelhardt being ineligible to play, due to playing for Leeds in an earlier round, means that Amad Diallo could move into a false nine role which opens up the space for Pritchard to slot in behind him.
Finally, we predict that Mowbray will afford Clarke a rest on the left wing by unleashing teenage “star boy” – as he was dubbed by journalist Josh Bunting – Jewison Bennette.
The forward started in the third round of the competition, against Shrewsbury, and could be given another chance to impress as part of the attacking line-up tonight.