Sunderland go into this weekend knowing that whatever the outcome, they’ll need a play-off win to secure their place in the Championship next season.
The Black Cats have found themselves outside the top two with one match to play, courtesy of their fourth defeat of the season at Fleetwood in midweek.
They face Southend with little to play for, but they’ll have to field a strong side. Ever since the Huddersfield and Birmingham clash of late 2017, EFL rules have stated at least ten outfield players from the previous match must feature in the next fixture for a club.
It’s to prevent the likes of Sunderland fielding a weakened side and handing Southend, still in danger at the bottom of the table, an advantage.
Speaking in his press conference this afternoon, Ross revealed that striker Charlie Wyke is due back this weekend, but Aiden McGeady will likely miss out.
McGeady has been playing with a broken foot recently, but there’s little point in testing him in the so-called dead rubber match against the Shrimpers.
He revealed one or two others are doubts too, which may give him reason to field a weaker side after all.
The rules are firm on the subject of weakened sides, but the grey area is with the likes of McGeady. He’s been injured, but still playing. Now there’s little to play for, the injury is sufficient to rule him out of action.
It could be the case with any number of players, so do expect a changed Sunderland side, if not a completely unfamiliar one.