Sunderland manager Gus Poyet will be harbouring hopes that his side can break into the top half of the Premier League this season.
The Black Cats have been battling away at the wrong end of the table in recent times but have a side that is capable of giving any team in the division a good game.
We’ve had a go at naming Sunderland’s strongest possible team with everyone fit and available.
GK – Vito Mannone
Mannone has done well since his move from Arsenal. He’s always looking for ways to make his defence’s job easier.
RB – Santiago Vergini
On loan from Estudiantes and seems to be a player who will get better the more and more he plays.
CB – John O’Shea
Provides that much need experience in the middle of the back four.
CB – Wes Brown
Has a great relationship with O’Shea from their days at Manchester United.
LB – Patrick van Aanholt
Unfortunate that he didn’t get more of a chance at Chelsea. A player with a point to prove over this season.
RM – Adam Johnson
Johnson has the ability to make the difference in big games. He’s lethal when he cuts inside and onto his left foot.
CM – Seb Larsson
He’s now a very experienced player and someone who can rotate with Johnson on the right hand side.
CM – Lee Cattermole
Provides that aggression in the middle of the team. Fingers crossed he doesn’t get into trouble over the course of this season.
CM – Jack Rodwell
The former Manchester City man seems to be thriving at his new club where he’s being given a chance.
LM – Emanuele Giaccherini
Pace off either wing and another player who can turn a game on its head.
ST – Steven Fletcher
An experienced player up front who works his socks off in any game he’s selected for.