Joe Nicholson believes that Patrick Roberts will return to the Sunderland starting lineup this weekend.
The Lowdown: Mowbray will want a positive response
Tony Mowbray decided to take a risk on Tuesday evening by rotating his Sunderland squad as he dropped players such as Roberts, Aji Alese, Abdoullah Ba and Trai Hume to the bench.
Sunderland lost their first away league game in 11 matches against Rotherham United in midweek, but they are still one point off the play-offs as things stand, so a win this weekend would be huge as they look to bounce back.
The Black Cats are on their travels once again as they face Coventry City on Saturday lunchtime, with Mowbray likely to reinstate some of his regular starters as they look to respond to their disappointing defeat.
The Latest: Roberts to start against Coventry
Nicholson has hinted on The Roar podcast that Roberts will be back in the starting lineup this weekend after managing to make an impact off the bench last time out.
He said: “I’d expect him to bring Roberts back in. He went on the bench against Rotherham and perhaps he should’ve started.
“He made an impact when he came on, but he was a player that had started seven games in a row, and obviously, you’ve got to remember with Patrick Roberts, I think he’s had two bad hamstring injuries, so Sunderland wouldn’t have wanted to overload him too much and have another serious injury, but I expect Roberts to come back in against Coventry.”
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The Verdict: Sunderland could close the gap
After losing just their 10th league game of the season a few days ago, Mowbray and his players will be eager to get back out and prove they have the credentials to make a serious push for the play-offs.
However, if they don’t manage to achieve promotion at the first time of asking this season, someone such as Roberts may be on the move this summer – and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to Mowbray either.
This is because the Black Cats boss has openly claimed Roberts ‘shouldn’t be playing in League One‘ and could be making thousands of pounds in the top tier of English football, which perhaps won’t have filled fans with much confidence in keeping him long-term.