Jack Ross and Graham Coughlan on League One clash as Bristol Rovers prepare to face 'big wallets' Sunderland

Bristol Rovers manager Graham Coughlan. Getty Images.
Bristol Rovers manager Graham Coughlan. Getty Images.

Sunderland make the long trip south tomorrow for the first of two away games against Bristol Rovers in the space of 11 days - with crucial points and a Wembley final at stake.

Not that Jack Ross is even thinking about the Checkatrade Trophy semi-final on March 5 just yet, with all his focus on Saturday’s important league fixture first.

The Scot is keen to build on the 4-2 League One win over Gillingham in midweek.

On the Checkatrade Trophy semi, Ross said: “When it comes around it will be an important game for us, but because of the significance of each and every league at the moment it’s not something that we’ve really given much consideration to, or any consideration to at all.

“We will do when it comes around. Even the Plymouth game isn’t given any consideration at the moment.

“It’s all about the challenge that we’ll face away from home on Saturday.

“I think when Graham [Coughlan] was in charge on a temporary basis, he had a reaction from the players, and we saw that when they came and played at the Stadium of Light in how difficult they made the game for us.

“Their recent form has been good and probably similar to quite a lot of the games we’ve had recently, were on paper people have the wrong idea that it’s a straight forward game because of league position.

“The reality is not only are these teams fighting to stay in the league but a lot of them are actually in good form.

“Any game away from home this season for us has been challenging, so it will be the same again on Saturday."

On the threat posed by Sunderland, Bristol Rovers manager Coughlan added: “Sunderland are a team that will, more likely, get promoted.

“They’re one of the bigger teams [in League One], massive, massive tradition and massive fan-base.

“Again, they’ve got big wallets so I guess Sunderland will have class all over the pitch. They’ll have quality all over the pitch, that’s what you pay for, that’s what you get when you put your hand in your pocket.

“We’re based on honesty, we’re based on hard work, and we’re based on grafters.

“I’ve we can bring our game and nullify their game, we may give ourselves a chance [of winning].”