2 big Sunderland dilemmas Tony Mowbray is facing for Ipswich clash
Tony Mowbray has plenty of things to weigh up ahead of their season opener – and Jobe Bellingham will be one player on his mind.
Sunderland should be looking to start their 2023/24 campaign with a victory, with Ipswich Town making the trip to the Stadium of Light.
The Tractor Boys have only just been promoted and although they look reasonably strong under Kieran McKenna, the Black Cats will be the clear favourites in this game considering they have the home advantage and have retained some of their key players including Jack Clarke.
One potential negative for the Wearside outfit is the fact their team is reasonably inexperienced – but they will only improve and some already have a decent amount of Championship football under their belt.
They will have extra motivation to do well this season following their play-off heartbreak last term.
The Black Cats did extremely well to get there in the first place, especially when you consider their previous lack of options in the forward department, with Ross Stewart spending much of the campaign out injured.
But they will be disappointed to have lost the semi-final second leg the way they did – and may have got through to the final if they had more centre-backs fit.
Focusing more on the present though, we take a look at the dilemmas Tony Mowbray will have ahead of this weekend’s clash.
Should Jobe Bellingham start for Sunderland?
There will be a lot of pressure on Bellingham to perform well considering how much of a superstar brother Jude is.
Not only will his sibling’s status put pressure on the younger Bellingham brother – but his price tag will too.
The Black Cats reportedly paid £3m for the 17-year-old and that’s a sizeable fee for some of his age, so Mowbray will need to weigh up whether to start the youngster or not.
In the absence of Amad Diallo, Bellingham could slot in nicely in the middle of the park ahead of Dan Neil and Pierre Ekwah.
Neil and Ekwah are still young too, so would their central midfield be too inexperienced if Bellingham was in the starting lineup too? Many youngsters have thrived under Mowbray before and that’s why the 59-year-old shouldn’t be scared about throwing him into the first 11.
But it remains to be seen whether the 17-year-old can handle the pressure of starting straight away. He has started at former club Birmingham City in the second tier, but there will be extra pressure on him to perform at his news club.
Which formation should Sunderland go with against Ipswich Town?
Whether Bellingham is included in the starting 11 or not may determine which formation Mowbray goes with.
A 4-2-3-1 seemed to work for the Black Cats last term and it would probably be foolish to change it considering many of their players are accustomed to this system.
They certainly have the players at their disposal to play this system – and it’s ideal for a Sunderland side that haven’t got a huge number of striker options at their disposal.
A 5-2-3 setup could also be another option for the Wearside outfit, with Bellingham potentially coming out of the starting lineup in favour of another central defender to make up the back three.
They have enough centre-back options – but you just feel Mowbray will want to be as positive as possible and control the midfield – so a 4-2-3-1 may be the formation to go for.