In an underwhelming start to 2012-13 for Sunderland, one of the most disappointing players has been Stephane Sessegnon. Once an exciting, quick dribbler from central positions, the Benin international hasn't scored since March, and has been substituted in five of his seven league starts this campaign.
Since Martin O'Neill took charge eleven months ago, Sessegnon had only been absent from the Sunderland side through suspension; until last week's game against Stoke, when he was dropped by the Northern Irishman for the first time.
With Lee Cattermole returning from a ban, Sebastian Larsson and Jack Colback retained their place in the side, while Sunderland's captain slotted in behind them. Steven Fletcher, still the only Sunderland player to score in the league this season, was left upfront alone.
This weekend, at home to O'Neill's former club Aston Villa, he'll surely want more attacking potential. Sessegnon's recent goals record is poor, but he offers more of a threat than the other three options in the centre of the pitch, with the exception of Larsson's free-kick ability.
Cattermole is unlikely to be dropped, so it's Colback or Sessegnon in the supporting role behind Fletcher, although Louis Saha was used as a second striker in the midweek Capital One Cup defeat to local rivals Middlesbrough. That shows O'Neill is thinking about a switch to 4-4-2, but after that strategy was abandoned after an hour in favour of Sessegnon behind Fletcher, I think O'Neill will start with those two this weekend.