Sunderland complete their final game of the Championship season against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday with the message clear in being able to send the home support away for the summer with what would be a first win at the Stadium of Light since February.

In their way lies a Sheffield Wednesday side under the stewardship of head coach Danny Rohl, a name heavily linked with the Sunderland vacancy this summer - perhaps even more so depending on the outcome of Saturday's final game of the season. The 35-year-old has worked wonders at Hillsborough this season in giving them an excellent opportunity to preserve their Championship status after a dreadful start to the campaign under previous head coach Xisco Munoz.

SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVE: Win a pair of Black Cats Bar season tickets for Sunderland's 2024/25 campaign

The Owls need a point from their visit to the Stadium of Light to ensure this game will be on the fixture list again next season otherwise they will be relying on results elsewhere involving Birmingham City and Plymouth Argyle. 

For Sunderland and interim head coach Mike Dodds, it's about taking what pride they can salvage from a season of disappointment ahead of a crucial summer for the club.

Dodds has insisted throughout the final weeks of the campaign he would not use the remaining games of the season as an experiment when it comes to significantly rotating his squad but will that remain the case on Saturday? We Are Sunderland predict Sunderland's final XI of the season to face Sheffield Wednesday.

WATCH: Mike Dodds' final pre-match press conference, head coach search & Sheffield Wednesday

Joe Ramage's predicted XI

Last week's trip to Vicarage Road certainly threw up another interesting selection from Mike Dodds having labelled Sunderland's previous home display against Millwall as 'boring.' Despite what looked, on paper at least, as though it would be a change of shape from Sunderland's interim head coach, Dodds stuck with a back five as Jobe Bellingham continued in midfield with Adil Aouchiche brought back into the fold in attack.

Aouchiche operated as a lone striker with Jack Clarke and Chris Rigg flanking as Callum Styles, despite his desire to feature in central midfield from the off, continued at left wing-back. But can Dodds afford to stick with a similar approach this weekend in the club's final game of the season?

There will be plenty of desire to see some rotation, with the likes of Tom Watson atop of many supporters' lists when it comes to players who they would like to see given an opportunity. Given the severity of the fixture from Sheffield Wednesday's point of view, as well as those battling to stay in the division elsewhere, however, the integrity matters may lead Dodds to sticking with a similar line-up as we saw a week ago.

Sunderland, to their credit, did pose more of a threat against Watford than we have seen in recent weeks with Clarke, Rigg, Trai Hume and Patrick Roberts all wasting big opportunities to score. That may give Dodds belief a similar approach and application towards the game could yield a better result on the final day.

Sunderland supporters have seen just one goal from their team at the Stadium of Light in the last five league games on Wearside - that coming as a consolation in a 5-1 hammering against Blackburn Rovers - having not seen their side win at home since February's success over Plymouth Argyle. In that regard, Sunderland, and Dodds, owe their supporters a better send off.

With that in mind, the shape many thought it was going to be against Watford is what we predict on Saturday, with Dodds moving back to a back four and Styles moving into the holding midfield role alongside Pierre Ekwah from the off.

Watson was named on the bench at Watford and he may have to settle for the same here as we lead with an unchanged starting line-up in a change of system with the other highlight being Jobe moving back into the centre-forward role ahead of Aouchiche, who moves back into the No.10 position.

We Are Sunderland: We Are Sunderland's predicted XI for Sunderland's final game of the season against Sheffield WednesdayWe Are Sunderland's predicted XI for Sunderland's final game of the season against Sheffield Wednesday (Image: Newsquest)

Matty Hewitt's predicted XI

Mike Dodds' pre-match press conference this week was somewhat of a final stand. One last game to send supporters home happy.

It's for that reason, I think we'll see a Sunderland XI as close to full strength as possible.

Part of my would love to see the Black Cats in a back four, but I think Dodds will stick to the shape we've seen in recent weeks - a 3-4-3 in possession.

Anthony Patterson should keep his place between the sticks with a back three of Aji Alese, Dan Ballard and Luke O'Nien, while I'd expect Trai Hume and Callum Styles to operate as wing-backs.

Pierre Ekwah and Jobe have been the midfield pairing of choice since Dan Neil sustained an injury that will rule him out for the rest of the campaign.

In truth, I think we'll see the exact same side from the defeat to Watford. Chris Rigg, Jack Clarke and Adil Aouchiche making up the forward line.


It would be disappointing if the likes of Tommy Watson isn't handed an opportunity to show his worth from the hour mark onwards. But much of that will depend on how the game is going.

Dodds and Sunderland need a win to head into the summer with some positivity.

Matty's predicted XI: Patterson; Ballard, O'Nien, Alese; Hume, Jobe, Ekwah, Styles; Clarke, Aouchiche, Rigg