Scout report: What Sunderland can expect from Burton Albion as Cats look for revenge against the Brewers

Forward Liam Boyce is Burton's top scorer this season with 12 goals in all competitions.
Forward Liam Boyce is Burton's top scorer this season with 12 goals in all competitions.
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Sunderland will welcome Burton Albion to the Stadium of Light tonight - but what can they expect from the Brewers?

Jack Ross' side will move into the automatic promotion places if they avoid defeat to Nigel Clough's men, yet it won't be easy against a side who have already beaten the Black Cats this campaign.

We take a closer look at Sunderland's next opponents ahead of the League One fixture.

What system will Burton play?

The Brewers have played with an interchangeable 4-3-1-2 in recent weeks, with a front three of Liam Boyce, Marcus Harness and Lucas Akins rotating positions.

During Saturday's victory over Barnsley, Boyce started just behind the front two before Burton switched to a 4-5-1 system late in the game.

The trio provide pace on the break which Sunderland will have to be wary of if they find themselves chasing the game

As shown by their run to the League Cup semi-final, Burton also have the ability to defend in numbers and shut teams out - excluding their 9-0 hammering at Manchester City.

Who are Burton's key players?

Boyce is Burton's top scorer this campaign with 12 goals in all competitions while Akins is one behind him with 11.

Centre-back duo Jake Buxton and Kyle McFadzean have also been key for Clough's men this season, though both are injury doubts for the fixture.

Sunderland fans may also remember midfielder Jamie Allen, who opened the scoring when Burton beat Sunderland 2-1 back in September.

Allen, who provides bags of energy in the middles of the park, also netted the first goal in Burton's 3-1 win over Barnsley at the weekend.

Do Burton have any injury worries?

Yes, and it could be significant.

Buxton, who has started Burton's last 13 league games, is a doubt after picking up a knock against Barnsley.

The Brewers camp has also been hit with an illness this week, which could mean McFadzean and midfielder Will Miller also miss out.

Meanwhile, winger David Templeton remains sidelined with a knee problem.

Who is Burton's manager and what can we expect from them?

Clough took charge of Burton in 2015 and is the eleventh longest-serving manager in England's top four divisions.

In that time Burton defied the odds to win promotion to the Championship before beating the drop in the second tier.

Despite slipping back into League One last campaign, Clough has stabilised the club this term and exceed expectations again with a run to the League Cup semi-final.

What form have Burton been in?

Burton are enjoying their best run of form this season after winning four of their last five league games.

Saturday's win over Barnsley at the Pirelli saw them rise to 10th in the table and followed back-to-back home wins over Blackpool and Accrington Stanley.

Their form away from home has been less impressive though, with Clough's men winning just one of their last four on the road.

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