Despite popular opinion, we can't be relegated today. The torture must continue. John O'Shea will be unavailable for today's trip to the Reading, but Joel Asoro is ready for a recall.
Doubts have hung over the trio Marc Wilson (meh), Paddy McNair (pls) and Lynden Gooch (prettty pls) but all three are fit and ready to start should Chris Coleman select them.
Of those who let two points slip against Norwich, Lee Camp looks set to start every game until the end of the season and, small mercies and that, his loan spell. Ahead of him, Lamine Kone and Donald Love will also keep their places - with the latter playing his way into the number one right back in recent weeks.
George Honeyman is in very good goal scoring form and has suddenly gone from rotation player to one of the first names on the team sheet. Alongside Lee Cattermole, he will make up a familiar midfield set up as we stick with 4-5-1 which has provided four points in four games. That doesn't sound like much, but it's one of our best runs of the season. Scintillating form.
Of the attacking trio I think that only Aiden McGeady is guaranteed a start. The Irishman has proved to be integral for the creativity he brings and with Kazenga LuaLua unlikely to ever start a game for Sunderland as the most pointless Sunderland signing of all time (wonder how much his agent got), McGeady remains our only winger comfortable on the left hand side that can make things happen.
The safe list
The return of Paddy McNair is bad news for Ovie Ejaria, who did not cover himself in glory against Norwich as he neglected to do anything whilst 1v1. McNair was integral to excellent performances against Derby and his goal at Leeds was almost enough for another win, so if fit enough he has to go straight into the first team.
Adam Matthews was substituted at half time for Bryan Oviedo who returned from injury and, as our only natural left back, it seems logical that the Costa Rican would regain his starting spot. Has to do better than recent performances, he's been really disappointing at both ends of the pitch recently.
Further up top I reckon Coleman will finally start Asoro again. Our last two draws featured an inability to score the vital second goal and as we can't rely on a defence that hasn't a clean sheet since January. Especially in O'Shea's absence. Who will Asoro replace? Gooch or Fletcher. In our situation you simply can't drop Gooch if he's fit enough to start because he has been our stand out player in the last four games.
Expected line up;
Lee Camp, Lamine Kone, Marc Wilson, Donald Love, Bryan Oviedo, Lee Cattermole, Paddy McNair, George Honeyman, Aiden McGeady, Lynden Gooch, Joel Asoro.