IF I LOOK at Sunderland's pre-season games, Roy Keane has chopped and changed the side, as every team has done.
So you tend to look at the last friendly and for Sunderland, that was against Juventus last Saturday and he went with a 4-4-2 system. At the back it was Greg Halford, Nyron Nosworthy, Paul McShane and Ross Wallace.
Halford is a full-back we know from Colchester who had a short spell at Reading while Nosworthy, who I saw a few times during his time at Gillingham where he played right-back or centre-half, has been used centrally. McShane has made a big impact in the short space of time he's been there, a very dynamic player and someone who has forced himself into the Republic of Ireland squad and team. Wallace at left-back is a player who has an ability to go forward and has played higher up the park on occasions.
In midfield you look at Carlos Edwards, Dean Whitehead, Dickson Etuhu, Liam Miller and Kieran Richardson.
Edwards, who came in from Luton, has had a period out injured in pre-season but from what we've heard, he will be fit to play. We know Whitehead well after he scored a fabulous goal at White Hart Lane a couple of seasons ago and Etuhu is a physical player signed from Preston who can also drive forward.
Everyone knows Richardson, a player they've acquired from Manchester United. He can play wide on the left or central and in him, Sunderland have a player with real quality on the ball.
They have options up front with Anthony Stokes, who did well at Falkirk last season, Daryl Murphy and Michael Chopra, who they signed from Cardiff. That's not even mentioning Stern John and Dwight Yorke, who has played more in midfield of late.
There will be a big crowd, great excitement and I would expect Sunderland to come flying out of the traps.
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Our regular pre-match assessments of our opponents with Chris Hughton starts with Sunderland as we prepare for the big kick-off on Saturday.