Sunderland have endured an alarming dip in form, which has come at the worst possible time as they prepare for the season-defining play-offs.
One man that hasn’t been present for Jack Ross’ side in recent weeks is Aiden McGeady, who missed the defeat to Southend United on the final day of the League One season.
However, the Sunderland boss remains confident that McGeady will be fit in time to face Portsmouth in the first-leg of their play-off semi-final.
In an exclusive interview with Football League World, Quest TV pundit, Dean Ashton feels that without McGeady available for Ross’ side in the play-offs, they won’t win promotion back into the Championship.
“They won’t get promoted without him, it’s as simple as that. He’s that important. Having watched him a lot this season, he’s by far the standout in that team, and he’s far too good for the level they’re currently at.
“You’d arguably say at times that he’s too good for the Championship, so they’ve got an unbelievable player still there and he’s shown it this season.”
Ashton also went on to admit that he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Irishman depart in the summer if the Black Cats don’t return to the Championship at the first time of asking this season.
“But without him, I just don’t see them having that cutting edge to get promoted and Sunderland have already slipped up recently. It would be a huge blow to not have him available for the play-offs.
“If they don’t get promoted this season, I’d be amazed if he stayed on with the club as there will be lots of clubs looking at him in the summer.”
It’s certain to be a closely-fought battle between the two League One heavyweights, and Sunderland fans will be desperate for McGeady to win his fitness battle ahead of the game.