Rovers travel to Sunderland on Friday night in what will be the second meeting between the two sides in less than a month.
Darren Moore’s side suffered their first defeat in four games last time out as they lost 1-0 at home to Coventry City.
Sunderland currently occupy the fourth and final play-off spot, with a four point gap between the two teams at present.
Sunderland’s recent form
The Black Cats have been great form since they last faced Rovers, picking up 10 points from a possible 12 since the turn of the year. A hard-fought draw at Fleetwood on New Year’s Day was followed up by a 3-1 home win against Lincoln City three days later. The Stadium of Light is a tough place to go for any side and early season pace-setters Wycombe Wanderers were the next to struggle on Wearside as they were hammed 4-0.
Their last win was a much tighter affair, as they scored late against a resurgent MK Dons side to earn another crucial three points in their quest for promotion to the Sky Bet Championship.
Who’s the gaffer?
The experienced Phil Parkinson took over as Sunderland manager in October after the departure of Jack Ross. The 52-year-old has several promotions on his CV, after having success with the likes of Colchester United, Bradford City and Bolton, with the hope that he can repeat that with his new club.
Since taking charge at the Stadium of Light, Parkinson has overseen 19 matches, winning six, drawing six and losing seven – giving him an overall win percentage of 31.58%.
Ones to watch
Lynch joined Sunderland in the summer of 2019, signing a one-year deal after being available on a free transfer. After starting his career with Brighton, the central defender joined Nottingham Forest, initially on loan, as he looked to continue his development at Championship level.
After three seasons at the City Ground, he left the club to join Huddersfield Town, where he had perhaps the most successful spell of his career – playing more than 180 times during his spell in West Yorkshire.
He moved to QPR for more than £1 million, and spent three years at Loftus Road before signing for Sunderland.
A former Rovers loanee, Gooch has become a regular in the Sunderland starting XI over the past couple of seasons since their relegation from the Sky Bet Championship.
He has been in fine form in recent weeks after opening the scoring against Rovers on December 29, adding three more goals to his tally and in turn helping his side to climb into the play-off places.
Maguire was an instant hit with the Black Cats’ supporters in his debut season with the club, scoring nine goals as they reached the Sky Bet League One play-off final.
He has already bettered that tally this season, already reaching double figures including the winner at the Keepmoat Stadium in December – the second season in a row he had secured all three points for his side in South Yorkshire.
Who’s the ref?
James Adcock will be the man in charge when Rovers take on Sunderland on Friday night, and you can find out more about him here.
Last time out
Rovers were beaten 2-1 by Sunderland when the two sides last met at the end of 2019. Lynden Gooch had given Sunderland an early lead, before Jon Taylor’s strike meant the teams went in level at the break. Chris Maguire scored the winner just past the hour-mark to take the three points back to Wearside.