Ex-Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips has claimed that the current delay to the football calendar presents his former club with a chance to kick start their promotion push this season.
Phil Parkinson’s side had slipped out of the play-off places on goal difference prior to the nationwide postponement of the professional game, after a run of four games without a win.
However, with football not set to resume until the 30th April at the earliest, Phillips believes this time away from the pitch could help the Black Cats to rediscover their form before the battle for promotion to the Championship gets back underway.
Speaking to Football Insider about the impact this unscheduled break could have on Sunderland, Phillips said: “Unfortunately, the last few weeks have been disappointing. They were slipping back into the way they were when Phil was first taking over.
“In terms of results and performances, it feels similar to the last part of when Jack Ross was there.
“It is desperate times but they can use it as a time to reflect, get good training done when you can and go again.”
Identifying some of the individual players in Sunderland’s squad who this delay could prove particularly advantageous for, Phillips continued: “Not for teams that were flying but for Sunderland, it might be a big chance.
“They have players that are carrying knocks, the likes of Gooch and Wyke. Maguire has not been performing at his maximum so it is a good chance to have a break.
“When they reconvene after the break they can have a right push. The forced break can actually do them good.”
As well as only being outside the play-offs on goal difference, Sunderland are still just three points adrift of Coventry City in the second automatic promotion place, with eight games of their regular season still to be played at some point.
I do agree with Phillips here.
Given the poor run of form that Sunderland were enduring before the postponement, there isn’t going to be too much of a concern about them losing momentum as a result of this delay.
Indeed, it could even help them build some momentum again, given they ought to be fresh and desperate to start playing again whenever the season does get back underway.
With that in mind, and their deficit in the battle for promotion still considerably marginal, there should still be plenty of optimism around the Stadium of Light about their chances of securing a place in the Championship for next season.