Sunderland’s summer signing Jack Baldwin has been a solid acquisition so far.
The 25-year-old joined from Peterborough United in the summer and he has been a key component in Jack Ross’ plans.
Operating at centre-half, the dominant defender has laid a platform for success at Sunderland.
Baldwin’s partnership with Tom Flanagan has been assured. But he will be without his trusted partner this weekend as the Northern Ireland international reports for duty with his country.
And in Flanagan’s absence, Baldwin faces a notoriously tricky challenge when he marks Adebayo Akinfenwa.
Partnered with either Glenn Loovens or Alim Ozturk, Baldwin will have to lead the defensive plan to limit Akinfenwa’s influence on the game.
Akinfenwa is well-known in the lower leagues for his unique style of play.
The 36-year-old is a lower league journeyman renowned for his physical strength. With a build not usually suited to a footballer’s body, he makes it very hard for opposition defenders to win any ball hit towards him.
Baldwin is a relatively young defender at 25 but he has plenty of experience and he’ll need all of that to cope with Akinfenwa’s threat.
Wycombe will play to the big man’s strengths and it’ll be up to Baldwin – without Flanagan – to rise to the challenge and ensure Sunderland keep Akinfenwa quiet.