I think it's both a tactical thing and a personnel thing. Against Fleetwood, we had players capable of a neat passing move - but that becomes all the more difficult in the face of coordinated pressure. We need to help ourselves out a little bit and that doesn't just come from sticking a foot in or throwing ourselves at the ball, but more importantly having some sort of an outball.
I'm a massive fan of Josh Maja. The kid has the special touch in front of goal that is very rare in football. But he's no outlet. When we're under the cosh, he isn't going to drag defenders out wide or win free kicks against defenders or be the type of player to lump a 60 yard pass to give the defence a chance to push up. Charlie Wyke is. I think Wyke will be a massive part of the team going forward and will be particularly useful in away games.
But then do you drop a striker who scores in a blink of an eye like Maja? Not for me. Something else has to give in the Sunderland selection to accommodate both. Keep the goals flowing, but give our defenders the opportunity to escape when under the cosh. Will that be at the expense of some passing play? Probably, but we have enough technically talented players to stop us falling into an ugly brand of football which doesn't seem to be in the manager's plans.
That will be helped when Aiden McGeady is fit enough to play. It would be a surprise to see him feature at all, with a place on the bench still a bit of a stretch, but it won't be long until the Irishman does start - probably as a direct replacement from the inconsistent Chris Maguire. For now though, let's see who will be keeping their place tomorrow.
The Safe List
Jon McLaughlin, Jack Baldwin, Glen Loovens, Lee Cattermole, George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch.
It's quite a short list really, more so because there are a few players Ross could drop if he is tempted to start Wyke, which I expect him to. The centre back pairing of Baldwin and Loovens is more reassuring than our other options, despite our tendency to concede. Given we've only conceded once from open play this season, our centre backs are doing a decent job.
Honeyman and Cattermole could find themselves in a midfield two tomorrow, particularly when considering McGeouch's knock. Lynden Gooch had a bit of an off day last week, but has shown enough the season to still be considered our most creative player right now.
Adam Matthews, Denver Hume, Dylan McGeouch, Lynden Gooch, Chris Maguire, Josh Maja.
Both full backs are up for the chop for completely different reasons. Matthews was abysmal against Fleetwood and fully deserves to serve time on the bench. Hume, however, had a great game and his place is only under scrutiny because of the returning Bryan Oviedo. Should Oviedo start, Hume may find himself on the right hand side - but I think Tom Flanagan would be the more compelling option.
As mentioned earlier, McGeouch is a doubt for tomorrow and after a bit of a meh display against Fleetwood he may have to wait for another chance. Should Wyke start, it could be one of Maguire or Maja to make way. Maguire is a strange one, given he hasn't really looked that good in most games this season. But, he can take a set piece - and a good set piece wins football matches.
Predicted line up;
McLaughlin, Baldwin, Loovens, Flanagan, Hume, Cattermole, Honeyman, Gooch, Maguire, Maja, Wyke.
All things considered, I expect Ross to make just two changes to the side that drew with Joey Barton's Fleetwood Town. Matthews for Flanagan and McGeouch for Wyke. It would see Sunderland change to a 4-4-2 formation, given extra onus on Gooch and Maguire (lord help us) to track back and perhaps overload the midfield where required. I think Oviedo has had a long week on International duty and therefore I'd be surprised if he was thrown straight back in.
What do you reckon? Let us know in the comments below!