Kevin Phillips has warned Sunderland against complacency going into their play-off final clash with Wycombe Wanderers.
The Black Cats will face Gareth Ainsworth’s side in Wembley for a shot at promotion to the Championship.
The sides finished 5th and 6th in the League One table respectively, but Alex Neil’s side will fancy their chances of taking victory later this month.
However, the former Sunderland forward has issued a warning to his old club claiming the team needs to remain at their sharpest to give themselves the best chance at a win.
While Phillips believes the team deserves to celebrate their semi-final win over Sheffield Wednesday, they must also recognise that the task at hand is still yet to be completed.
The former striker knows the pain of losing a play-off final, and wants his former club to avoid making any costly mistakes due to a lack of focus.
“We saw over the two games they showed a bit of everything over the tie,” said the 48-year old, via Chronicle Live.
“They showed heart, spirit, defending as a unit, individually, everything you need to get through a football match. They’ve done a really hard part to get to the final.
“Enjoy [Monday night], rightly so and they get ready and start preparing for a week Saturday which is so important because you don’t want to go there and let you down.
“I’ve been there with Sunderland and it’s horrible to lose in a play-off final but believe me when you do win a play-off final it’s one of the best ways to get promoted and I hope these guys feel that on the 21st.
“They’ve been stuck in it [League One] for four years, they’ve got another opportunity on the 21st to get out of it, but it’ll be a tough tough match. Everyone will make Sunderland the favourites.
“Ultimately, as Clinton [Morrison] will tell you, when these moments come around, you have to enjoy them. Definitely go and have a beer tonight, enjoy yourselves tonight and tomorrow and then come back in whenever you do refocussed to go again.”
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Sunderland had the edge over their upcoming opponents during their two league meetings this season, winning 3-1 and drawing 3-3 between both games.
Neil’s side will likely be the favourites going into the tie, which takes place on May 21 in Wembley.
The victory over Sheffield Wednesday was a huge result for the team to book a place in the final.
But anything can happen in a one-off cup game, so Wycombe will pose many difficult threats for Neil’s side to face.
Their unique brand of football can also be difficult to handle, as seen by their victory over an impressive MK Dons side in the other semi-final.
Both sides are inherently evenly matched by virtue of reaching this stage, so both sides will need to respect the achievements of their opponent going into this huge game.