Sunderland AFC v Rochdale scout report: Inside track on League One opponents and the former Black Cat defender heading back to Wearside

Sunderland welcome Brian Barry-Murphy’s Rochdale to the Stadium of Light on Tuesday evening aiming to build on the impressive victory over Ipswich Town.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 5:00 pm
Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson.
Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson.

How exactly will Rochdale be set up? What system will they use? And which particular threats do Sunderland need to be wary of? We explore this in our midweek scout report:

League position:

Rochdale currently sit 18th in the League One table and have shipped in 48 league goals this season, with just one win in their last 5 games.

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Despite a set of mixed results in recent weeks they still are 11 points above the relegation zone.

Their recent result was a 1-1 draw away at Doncaster Rovers with midfielder Oliver Rathbone netting a late equaliser to snatch a point.

Brian Barry-Murphy’s preference is normally to play with a 4-4-2 formation as they have a fair bit of physicality at the top end of the pitch at the moment.

Who are Rochdale’s men to watch?

Making a return to wearside is ex-Sunderland defender Paul McShane who is one of the Dale’s more experienced squad members at the present moment.

However, their star man this season has been 17-year-old Luke Matheson, who recently has completed a move to Premier league side Wolverhampton Wanderers with the full back being loaned back out to the League One side for the rest of the season.

Another man who has been around the block a few times at various clubs in the football league is forward Aaron Wilbraham who was on the scoresheet against Newcastle United in the FA Cup a few weeks back.

Who is Rochdale’s man in the dugout?

Brian Barry-Murphy has been in charge since March last year following Keith Hill’s sacking.

A month later he signed a two-year deal having originally been brought in as caretaker boss.

The 41-year-old played a vital role in a dark period for Sunderland back in August 2006 as the then midfielder was part of a Bury team that crashed the Black Cats out of the League Cup, providing assists for two goals on the night.