Sunderland take on Watford this weekend with the Black Cats desperate for a victory.
David Moyes’ men are four points from safety at the bottom of the Premier League and will be keen to avoid three defeats in a week – with a capitulation at Swansea leading to a 3-0 defeat and a fingertip save from Thibaut Courtois denying the Black Cats a point against league leaders Chelsea on Wednesday night.
There are several new injury concerns for Moyes ahead of the game. Billy Jones is unlikely to take part after limping off on Wednesday, whilst Jan Kirchhoff has joined Duncan Watmore, Lynden Gooch, Lee Cattermole and Paddy McNair on the long term injury list after tearing his cartilage.
Victor Anichebe, Steven Pienaar and Javier Manquillo will all face late fitness tests after missing the Chelsea game due to slight knocks.
Sunderland have not beaten Watford since a 4-2 Championship home win back in 2005, with the Black Cats suffering a 1-0 loss at home last season and playing out a 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road on the last day of last season. This would be a great time to end that drought.
Here is the XI I think Moyes will select:
Pickford put another strong performance in against Chelsea and will surely keep his place on Saturday.
With Jones likely to be out, Manquillo will be his natural replacement – if he passes his own fitness test. If not, expect Donald Love to start.
Despite tackling Billy Jones in the build up to Fabregas’ goal on Wednesday, Kone performed well and will keep his place.
Djilobodji seems to be settling into the side now. He will partner Kone at the back as I expect O’Shea to be dropped in favour of a reversion to 4-3-3.
Patrick van Aanholt
Came so, so close to equalising on Saturday. He will be starting.
Provided a bit of life to the midfield after coming on against Chelsea. I think he will start in central midfield to provide some solidity.
Sunderland’s only holding midfield option at the moment.
With his suspension over, Ndong will be back in the starting lineup – a welcome addition following the ruling out of Kirchhoff.
Borini did well on his return from injury against Chelsea, but was absolutely knackered by the time he came off. I expect him to start on the wing, but don’t be surprised to see him taken off before the end of the 90 minutes.
Defoe will lead the front line for Sunderland and will probably captain the side too.
Big Vic, if passed fit, will replace Adnan Januzaj on the left wing and will be a target man for Pickford. Expect Januzaj to retain his place if the Nigerian doesn’t quite make it.