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Scout report: Why Sunderland should be wary of resurgent Bradford as Jack Ross prepares to face a familiar foe

Bradford manager David Hopkin.
Bradford manager David Hopkin.
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Jack Ross knows Bradford manager David Hopkin well - but what should we expect when Sunderland face the Bantams on Saturday afternoon?

Hopkin has followed a similar path to Ross, after starting his managerial career in Scotland, before moving south of the border earlier this year.

The pair came face-to-face several times during Ross’ spells at Alloa and St Mirren, while Hopkin was in charge at Livingston.

But it’s been a difficult start for Hopkin since his appointment at Valley Parade last month, with his side currently sitting 19th in the table.

Even so, Bradford's form has picked up in recent weeks and the Bantams are unbeaten in their last three league games.

We take a closer look at tomorrow's opponents ahead of tomorrow's League One clash.

What system will Bradford play?

Hopkin likes his side to play with two strikers but, due to injuries and other factors, he’s been unable to discover a consistent partnership.

The Bantams have improved defensively since Hopkin took charge, as showed by back-to-back clean sheets in the league.

Hopkin praised his team's ‘defensive grit’ following Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over Wimbledon, and his side appear much more organised compared to when they lost 3-2 to Blackpool in the Scot’s first game in charge.

Who are Bradford’s key players?

Jack Payne, on loan from Huddersfield, provides quality from midfield and can operate out wide or through the middle.

The 23-year-old is the Bantams' top scorer this season with four goals, including the first-half penalty which saw off Wimbledon in midweek.

Sean Scannell offers pace from out wide, while striker Eoin Doyle has good pedigree at this level but missed Tuesday’s win with a back problem.

Jim O'Brien has been a huge hit since signing on a free agent, but is expected to miss the next six weeks with a torn hamstring.

Do Bradford have any injury worries?

Bantams captain Josh Wright is back in training after missing the last five games with a hamstring injury.

O'Brien's injury will be a big blow for Hopkin's team, but the Bradford boss believes his side can adapt.

Doyle missed the game in midweek but could return to face the Black Cats, while Jake Reeves (groin), Hope Akpan (shoulder) and Adam Chicksen (leg) remain out.

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

Hopkin asked for "a physical, defensive effort" from his players at half-time during the Bantams victory over Wimbledon.

Bradford deployed a 4-4-2 formation in midweek but Hopkin hinted his side may change their system due to his growing injury list.

“We are where we are and need to come up with a system to suit the players that are available," said Hopkins ahead of this weekend's game.

“Hopefully we can make it difficult for Sunderland and still try to win the game. I’m not going to be negative."

What form have Bradford been in?

Tuesday's win marked Hopkin's first league victory since taking charge at Valley Parade on September 4.

Bradford were 17th in League One back then, and have slipped two places to 19th since the change of management.

But after losing his first three league games in charge, Hopkin has now seen his side go three games unbeaten

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