Scout report: Why Sunderland should be wary of free-scoring Doncaster and MUST exploit a major weakness

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Sunderland travel to promotion rivals Doncaster Rovers tonight in what could prove to be a pivotal League One fixture.

The Black Cats are just one point ahead of Grant McCann's side, who are exceeding expectations this campaign.

Doncaster manager Grant McCann.

Doncaster manager Grant McCann.

Rovers possess one of the best attacks in the division, but are also vulnerable at the other end.

Ahead of their trip to South Yorkshire, we take a closer look at what Sunderland should expect from tonight's opponents.

What system will Doncaster play?

Rovers have predominately played a 4-3-3 system this season, which allows them to exploit their players' attacking qualities.

Top scorer John Marquis has led the line all season, and has often been supported by Mallik Wilks and James Coppinger on the flanks.

McCann likes to play with three central midfielders, who are given licence to get forward.

However, their offensive approach has left Rovers vulnerable at the back, and they have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine fixtures.

Who are Doncaster’s key players?

Marquis is the division's joint top scorer with nine league goals, alongside Sunderland's Josh Maja, Rochdale's Ian Henderson and Peterborough's Matt Godden.

Coppinger, who has made over 550 appearances for the club, has also been crucial in the final third, contributing with five assists in the league this campaign.

Do Doncaster have any injury worries?

Midfielder Herbie Kane, on loan from Liverpool, is a doubt, after he was substituted during Rovers' 3-3 draw with Gillingham because of a dead leg.

Captain Tommy Rowe is also out with a hamstring injury which has kept him out since September, but centre-back Joe Wright is set to return after serving a suspension.

Who is Doncaster’s manager and what can we expect from them?

McCann, 38, replaced Darren Ferguson at the Keepmoat Stadium back in June.

At the time, Rovers chairman David Blunt described McCann as 'one of the most promising young coaches in football', following his time at Peterborough.

McCann has certainly impressed so far, with Rovers sitting sixth in the table after 14 games.

The former Northern Ireland international likes his side to play on the front foot, and they've scored 24 goals in the league this campaign.

However, they have been vulnerable at the back, conceding nine goals in their last three games.

What form have Doncaster been in?

Rovers moved up to third following a victory at Plymouth at the end of September.

However, McCann's side have struggled to maintain their impressive form in recent weeks, taking just four points from their last four games.

Back to back defeats against Accrington Stanley and Fleetwood, which they lost 4-0, at the start of October highlighted Doncaster's frailties.

Even so, there have been signs that Rovers are rediscovering their early-season promise.

McCann's side recorded 32 shots against Gillingham compared to the visitors three, but somehow drew the game 3-3.

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