Sunderland attacker Aiden O’Brien insists he and his teammates are not getting carried with their current position, despite being confident about their League One promotion chances this season.
The Black Cats are currently third in the League One table, favoured to go up whatever way you look at the Odds Converter, two points adrift of an automatic promotion place and with games in hand on the two sides above them – Hull City and Peterborough United – going into the final few weeks of the season.
Next up for Sunderland are two huge games in the race for the Championship over the Easter Weekend, as they host play-off chasing Oxford at The Stadium of Light, before taking on Peterborough themselves at London Road.
Now it seems as though Sunderland’s squad are optimistic, but not complacent, about getting the job done in those games, following a run of ten wins in their last 12, culminating with victory at Bristol Rovers last weekend.
Speaking to The Sunderland Chronicle about the mood within the dressing room going into the run-in, O’Brien revealed: “We are [confident], but we’re also keeping a level head about ourselves. We knew that Bristol Rovers were bottom half of the table and it’s easy to think that we should run all over these, but it isn’t like that.
“You know what football’s like, especially in League One, and anyone can beat anyone. You have to keep your head right and that’s what the manager has been doing to try and keep us level-headed.
“Yeah we are good enough, but let’s not get too far ahead and get the job done then move on to the next one.
“That’s what we’ve been doing – keeping ourselves really level-headed, grinding out results and making sure we take home the three points.”
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Indeed, it seems that thanks to that recent run, there is now a belief within the side that Sunderland can indeed go on to secure promotion this season, with O’Brien going on to add: “We’ve got such fight, mentality and strong characters in the group – that little blip isn’t going to change how good we’ve been this season.
“We’ve got the fight, we’ve got the quality. Why not get promoted this year? We’re there, we’re three points behind with two games in hand on Hull. Ten games to go, who’s got more fight? Who’s got more hunger in the bellies to take it home?”
Since joining Sunderland from Millwall last summer, O’Brien has scored six goals in and provided two assists in 32 appearances in all competitions for the Black Cats.
O’Brien certainly seems to be saying all the right things here when it comes to Sunderland’s promotion chances.
Obviously, those associated with Sunderland are not going to want to see one of their own players downplay their own hopes, something which is not going to help anyone’s confidence at The Stadium of Light.
At the same time though, the Black Cats cannot afford to get too carried away here, something which could come back to bit them given there is so much still to be decided on the pitch.
It looks as though O’Brien has struck the balance between the two reasonably well here, and it will now be interesting to see if he and his teammates can do the same on the pitch.