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Sunderland vs Portsmouth Checkatrade Trophy final - Writers' line-ups for Wembley; ChronicleSAFC writers give the starting line-ups they would go with for the Checkatrade Trophy final at Wembley between Sunderland and Portsmouth.

Byline: Craig Johns

While Sunderland supporters are gearing for an incredible weekend at Wembley for the Checkatrade Trophy final, manager Jack Ross might not be able to enjoy the build-up so much.

That's becauseRosswill have the unenviable task of telling certain members of hisBlack Catssquad that they have missed out on a place in his cup final starting line-up.

Publicly, Ross will tell you that's just part of his job, and he'll ask for a reaction from those not selected, be that if they're used from the bench on the day, or if they get an opportunity further down the line.

And while that's right, it still cannot be an easy job for Ross to choose which 11 to go with on the day.

Some position will naturally pick themselves. Others will be a lot tougher. Here our Chronicle SAFC writers each choose the team they would start with at Wembley. Scroll to the bottom and you can also select your own using our team selector tool.

There are a couple of issues I am not especially fussed about in this team: which wing Lewis Morgan and Aiden Mcgeady play on, and the choice of central defenders.

Lynden Gooch has never recovered the form he showed before December, while Morgan has made a good case for himself in recent games. Against Walsall, in a change to the usual set-up, Morgan started on the left and McGeady on the right and it seemed to work well, but both are comfortable on either side and it would be a surprise if they did not swap over during the game.

I suspect a Wembley cup final is a good day for the passing qualities of Dylan McGeouch, but he has played little football recently and it is very hard to make a case for either Lee Cattermole and Grant Leadbitter to make way.

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At the back, it seems like Reece James will be fit and should therefore be chosen over Adam Matthews, whose fitness is less certain -- better to concentrate on getting the Welshman fit for the League One run-in.

I believe Jack Baldwin has to start after recovering his form in the last two matches, and I would go for the more established partnership with Tom Flanagan, than the left-right combination with the on-loan Jimmy Dunne.

XI: McLaughlin; O'Nien, Baldwin, Flanagan, James; Leadbitter, Cattermole; Morgan, Honeyman, McGeady; Grigg

A lot of positions pick themselves thanks to fantastic form of certain individuals this season, but there are still plenty of positions up for grabs in Jack Ross' team.

If it were my choice, I'd like to see Jack Baldwin and Tom Flanagan resume their partnership at centre-back. The two were far more reassuring alongside each other than either has looked partnered with Jimmy Dunne since his arrival in January.

George Honeyman is an easy pick to come back in at number 10 at the expense of Max Power, which leaves left-back and right-wing as the two main positions left to pick from.

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I'm being extremely harsh to Reece James and Lewis Morgan who've shown great form at points in the season. But I'm going with Denver Hume and Lynden Gooch purely because they are both academy graduates and long-term servants of the club. I'm aware sentimentality doesn't win you anything, but I've a feeling if their passion and desire can be channeled correctly, it will be a huge asset.

In central midfield, the experienced, wise heads of Leadbitter and Cattermole could be key to Sunderland claiming victory.

XI: McLaughlin; O'Nien, Baldwin, Flanagan, Hume; Leadbitter, Cattermole; Gooch, Honeyman, McGeady; Grigg

Stick with the tried and tested or switch to the 4-4-2 which, on occasions, has worked so well?

On the wide open spaces of Wembley, I would be tempted to stretch the game as much as possible, so I would stay with the 4-2-3-1 formation which has served Sunderland well.

George Honeyman would return to the side for me, ahead of Grant Leadbitter and Lee Cattermole in central midfield, allowing Aiden McGeady and Lewis Morgan to exploit the space on the flanks.

In central defence, despite Jack Baldwin's decent return to the side, I would go with Tom Flanagan and Jimmy Dunne, with Reece James at left-back if fit. If not, then Denver Hume gets the nod.

XI: McLaughlin; O'Nien, Flanagan, Dunne, James; Cattermole, Leadbitter; Morgan, Honeyman, McGeady; Grigg

I think given the options available and form in recent weeks, this is the strongest available team to Jack Ross. There are certainly decisions for the Scot to make.

At the back, it is probably harsh to leave out Jack Baldwin but Tom Flanagan and Jimmy Dunne have struck up a decent partnership since the latter's arrival in January.

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Every time I have watched Lewis Morgan since his arrival from Celtic he has been full of energy and at the centre of a lot of positive attacking intent from Sunderland. He gets the nod, just, over Lynden Gooch, although the American will be a vital asset to bring off the bench.

George Honeyman has missed the last couple of games through suspension but I am in no doubt that he will captain Sunderland at Wembley. It means Max Power, who has impressed this season misses out. Given Honeyman's likely recall and the form of Lee Cattermole and Grant Leadbitter in their deeper-lying midfield roles, it is hard to find a place for Power in the side.

XI: McLaughlin; O'Nien, Flanagan, Dunne, James; Cattermole, Leadbitter; Morgan, Honeyman, McGeady; Grigg

The big decision for me is in midfield. Max Power's inclusion in the wake of George Honeyman's suspension saw Sunderland play a bit deeper, and there were times - particularly against Barnsley - where you felt Will Grigg was getting a little bit isolated as a result.

A natural number ten like Honeyman should give the Black Cats some more luck in the final third. Let's hope that doesn't backfire against a free-scoring Portsmouth...

XI: McLaughlin; O'Nien, Baldwin, Flanagan, James; Leadbitter, Cattermole; Morgan, Honeyman, McGeady; Grigg

Pick your team using our team selector tool below:

Sunderland vs Portsmouth - Checkatrade Trophy final team selector

'I wept with joy when the whistle went' - George Forster recounts his Sunderland Wembley visits

Sunderland at Wembley: Fans remember Black Cats' last visit for the 2014 League Cup final

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Sunderland manager Jack Ross
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 29, 2019
Words:1080
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