Young goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is set to be given his first-team debut at Sunderland, against Arsenal.
The two sides meet in the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon and Sam Allardyce is preparing to throw Pickford, 21, into the team for the first time.
Recently on loan at Preston North End, the goalkeeper has been capped by England u21s five times since making his debut last year and is clearly highly thought of. It means former Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone won’t line up at the Emirates Stadium, but will only be on the bench at best.
Sunderland are expected to rotate fairly heavily, as Sam Allardyce puts the league above the cup on his list of priorities, Pickford would be just one of many changes to expect. Sunderland play Swansea on Wednesday night and are away at Tottenham early on Saturday, and Allardyce won’t risk losing players in a cup tie he is unlikely to win anyway.
“Of course I’m going to make changes for our cup tie at Arsenal on Saturday,” said the Sunderland boss at the beginning of the week. “If the Premier League decides to put a stupid fixture midweek when they don’t bloody need to, then I haven’t got much choice than to make changes.
“If you want us to respect the FA Cup, don’t put Premier League fixtures in the midweek just after new year.
“Don’t give me stick when I change the side at Arsenal. Give the Premier League stick, not the managers.”