Sunderland are facing a pivotal period in their season as their automatic promotion hopes hang in the balance.
The Black Cats were part of a three-horse race to secure a top two finish in League One with Hull City and Peterborough United also vying for a place in the Championship.
Unfortunately for Lee Johnson’s side things have gone downhill in the last week.
Sunderland have lost three of their last three matches against Charlton Athletic, Wigan Athletic and most recently against Blackpool on Saturday.
The 1-0 defeat against the Seasiders was another real blow with Lee Johnson admitting that attention must now switch to be prepared for the play-offs.
So what dilemmas does Johnson face? We take a look.
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Rebuilding confidence in the team
Sunderland look like a team who have run out of steam at the moment.
After such an excellent run of form the side seemed like they were on top of the world but since losing to Charlton Athletic they seem like a team who don’t know which way to turn.
With matches running out between now and the end of the season it’s essential that Lee Johnson instills that belief back into his team otherwise their season could be over.
Preparing for the play-offs
While a minor miracle could see Sunderland securing automatic promotion, I think it’s best that the club turn their attention to the play-offs.
With five matches left of the regular season it’s essential that Lee Johnson regroups his team during these games and hopefully starts to build some momentum ahead of the play-offs.
Sunderland need to be brimming with confidence going into the play-offs otherwise they risk falling short and facing the unthinkable prospect of a fourth campaign in League One.
Relieving the burden on Aiden McGeady
This is a key priority for Lee Johnson.
Sunderland have looked far too reliant on the experienced winger during their last few games with no one else really stepping up to the plate as a creative force for the team.
As a result clubs find it easy to nullify any threat as they know who the danger man is.
If Lee Johnson can get the likes of Jordan Jones, Lynden Gooch or even Chris Maguire firing as well then it will surely bode well for the next few pivotal matches.