John Coleman admits he has had to make big decisions over his team selection for Saturday’s visit of eighth placed Sunderland in Sky Bet League One.
Coleman has a strong squad to choose from with the addition of four loan players earlier this month on transfer deadline day although experienced players Sean McConville and Seamus Conneely are both suspended for Saturday’s clash at the Wham Stadium.
The Reds boss ran the rule over midfielder Sadou Diallo, on loan from Wolves, and striker Connor Simpson, from Preston North End, in the 2-0 Lancashire Cup defeat to Blackburn Rovers midweek.
Fulham defender Jerome Opoku came on in last week’s 3-3 draw with Bristol Rovers while West Ham defender Aji Alese has joined up with the squad for the first time this week after England Under 19 duty. Goalkeeper Josef Bursik is also back in the frame following England Under 20 duty.
“I think I have made up my mind what my starting XI will be but it has been tricky,” said the Reds boss. “I am probably still in two minds over one position.
“At our club, we know our signings are punts to some extent. Some of them have played none or little league football so you are never quite sure how they will react but it’s been positive on the training pitch.
“You have to pick what you think will be the best team to give you the best chance of beating the opposition and we know Sunderland will be tough.
“They have had to sit and stew following their defeat to Peterborough before the international break and it can go one of two ways. They can be fired up to avenge that or be a bit rusty after a two week break.
“I watched the game against Peterborough and, despite the 3-0 scoreline, it could have gone either way. Peterborough were just more clinical on the day.
“We obviously played Sunderland in the Carabao Cup recently and lost 3-1 but I think that scoreline flattered them.
“We missed some good chances but we know they have got some good players who can hurt you at the drop of a hat.
“It’s easy to say: ‘They have got this and we have got that’ but, at the end of the day, it’s 11 v 11 on the field and you have got to try and enjoy it.
“We know we gave them a good game in the cup and hopefully it will be a good game on Saturday and a positive result for us.”
Defender Zaine Francis-Angol will have a late fitness test.