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Sunderland were flat on Friday - is it time to rotate the squad ahead of some tough fixtures?

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Sunderland were flat on Friday. Would you rotate the squad for Wednesday’s trip to Tranmere Rovers, ahead of two big matches against Portsmouth at Fratton Park and Ipswich Town at the Stadium of Light?

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Four weeks ago, before Sunderland’s trip to the Keepmoat Stadium, doom and gloom filled Wearside - and rightly so. After a 0-0 draw against bottom side, Bolton, the Lads dropped to their lowest ever league position. Since then, Phil Parkinson’s side have rocketed themselves from 15th to fifth in the League One table.

Sunderland are now seven weeks without a defeat, unbeaten since a one-nil loss against Gillingham at the Priestfield. Four wins and four draw have laid down the foundations of an eight-game unbeaten run, and although Sunderland weren’t able to continue their winning run, they were able to carry on their unbeaten period.

On Friday night, from the off it was almost like a reflection of the first half performance against MK Dons, apart from the threat Doncaster posed.

They limited the amount of chances that the Black Cats had, and stopped the hosts from having time on the ball and giving them room to attack, something which both Lincoln and Wycombe did in the last two home matches. The best chances came late on in the match, with Watmore forcing Seny Dieng into a vital save that meant sure Darren Moore’s side travelled back to Yorkshire with a point.

Although the visitors posed a threat on the attack, the back-three did well again to stop anything from going past them as they kept a third successive clean sheet - something which must be credited as we kept two in ten matches at the start of Parkinson’s tenure.

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

And a word for the referee on the night, who had a shocker. Already this season the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) have apologised to Sunderland for two incorrect decisions by the referee on duty for one particular game, and another error from the referee left both the fans and the Sunderland bench enraged.

Charlie Wyke won the ball and carried it around the defender, but was brought to the ground. The referee - James Adcock - thought that the big centre forward dived, although it was clear to everyone else in the ground that he was infact tripped, and denied a good opportunity to score.

Will anything be done about it? Probably not.

Next we make a first trip to Prenton Park in 20 years, as we face Tranmere Rovers in League One on Wednesday night. This game was rearranged due to Rovers’ 2-1 extra time win over Watford in a third round FA Cup replay, meaning they face Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday.

The Black Cats have added time to prepare themselves for this game, as Rovers didn’t play United until Sunday afternoon, but Sunderland are staging a behind-closed doors game to get players up to full speed.

Parkinson may be required to make a few changes as some players may not be able to play Wednesday and Saturday. If I was Parkinson, I would prioritise Saturday’s trip to Fratton Park, so I would rather him make changes for the trip to Tranmere. It will always be a tough task going to a newly-promoted side, but hopefully we can produce a fourth win of 2020.