Sunderland predicted XI - Stoke City: Changes forced despite Crystal Palace win and clean sheet
Image credit: The Mirror

Billy Jones' suspension means Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce will have to make at least one change to his team ahead of the visit of Stoke City.

Pantilimon's place a given

The place between the posts is a position which picks itself with Costel Pantilimon the dependent figure in goal for Sunderland.

The Romanian international will have extra confidence in himself heading into this one after recording just his second clean sheet of the season at the ground where he made his league debut for the club last season.

Who will replace Jones?

Despite Jones being ruled out of this one courtesy of his fifth booking of the season in the Crystal Palace game, you feel Allardyce will stick with the 5-3-2 or 3-5-2 formation, depending on your perspective. The obvious replacement for Jones would be DeAndre Yedlin on the right, despite him losing his place in the team recently.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the pitch Patrick Van Aanholt should keep his place after what was probably his best performance of the season in a wing-back position where he seems to have found his calling. 

No need to tinker with centre of defence

There is absolutely no reason why the centre back positions will not be patrolled Byrne same  three players, avoiding last minute injury before the game.

Therefore John O'Shea, Sebastian Coates and, Monday's man of the match, Younes Kaboul should continue at the three centre backs. They looked a really dominating unit as a three piece as they helped to nullify former teammate Connor Wickham.

Can Kaboul continue to perform strongly on a regular basis. (Image credit: chroniclelive)
Can Kaboul continue to perform strongly on a regular basis. (Image credit: chroniclelive)

Central midfield to see a change?

Like the middle of the defence, you would expect three players to feature in midfield, just like at Selhurst Park on Monday. Two of these positions pick themselves with Yann M'Vila and Lee Cattermole set to protect their back three again like they did so well in South London.

The player to play slightly further forward than these two is more of a debate with Sebastian Larsson starting in this role against Palace. The Swede was arguably the team's worst player though and was taken off early in the second half. 

Therefore, Allardyce could be tempted to go with a more direct thinking player such as Duncan Watmore or Jermain Lens who made good impacts off the bench on Monday. My pick would be Lens on the basis of experience.

Defoe to start if fit

If the formation from the start of the week is kept then there will be two men up top for the Wearsiders, the two men who started on Monday were Steven Fletcher and match winner Jermain Defoe. The latter had to leave the game late on with a nasty looking ankle injury, however, the knock is less serious than first feared and the former Tottenham Hotspur striker is in contention to start again.

If Defoe is fit enough to go then you'd think he'll start the Stoke game as he is very important to the side. Meanwhile, despite coming off quite early against Palace, Fletcher made enough impact in the first half to keep his place.

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