Sunderland have missed a great opportunity to seize the advantage in the League One promotion picture this week, drawing with Wycombe on Saturday and again with Barnsley in midweek.
It’s left the Black Cats trailing the Tykes by four points, albeit with a game in hand. That’s still a one-point deficit, something manager Jack Ross is aware of but not concerned about.
He doesn’t feel it leaves them as outsiders in the hunt for a Championship spot though. He concedes he’d like to be in pole position, but that overall he is happy with the club’s current situation.
“It goes without saying that I’d like to be where Luton are,” he was quoted by the Sunderland Echo.
“Where we are, it’s there or thereabouts. That’s the worst case scenario if you like, you want to be in a position where you have a chance of achieving promotion. It’s not a slim chance we have, it’s a good chance.”
Knowing that his side are still in with a shout, he laid bare what they need to do to make the top two, but reminded fans that just because their rivals have a slender lead, it doesn’t mean his side are out of the hunt.
“We have to keep winning games. I know people will look and say it’s out of our hands but it’s only really if there’s a game or two to go. Right now, it’s dramatic to say that, there’s so much of the season to play. Right now, we’re OK,”
His side play struggling Walsall tomorrow before having a break from league action for a fortnight. Firstly, they’re missing a game through the international break, before a Wembley date with Portsmouth in little over a fortnight’s time.
The issue here isn’t the current gap, it’s the pressure a couple of Barnsley wins will add over the next couple of weeks. They could be ten points clear of the Black Cats by the time they’re heading back up the A1 from Wembley.
Even with games in hand, that’s a huge deficit to start worrying about.