Sunderland quickly put their EFL Trophy woes behind them with a good win over Accrington Stanley earlier this week.
They now have the top two race in their hands and, ahead of a match against Rochdale, things are looking positive overall.
To talk all things Wearside as usual, then, we caught up with Gary McLaughlin from We Are Wearside…
1. How impressed have you been with Sunderland’s bounce back from the loss at the weekend?
Extremely, it was all the more impressive given a lot of players who haven’t started many games recently came in and performed well. That applies more so to Dylan McGeouch and Denver Hume, both of whom had fantastic games. It’s always a worry what the response will be from a big high or a big low, but I think everyone associated with the club were already well acclimatised with the understanding that promotion was infinitely more important than the cup final.
2. Kazaiah Sterling got off the mark against Accrington, is he in contention to start at the weekend?
Probably not, he hasn’t featured much at all and with Charlie Wyke putting in a couple of great performances and Will Grigg being our talisman up front there isn’t any room for Sterling to start. Looks a decent impact player.
3. Three behind Barnsley with two in hand – is talk of the top two growing?
I don’t think the talk ever stopped, we know we have the quality to finish above Barnsley, and Luton are not out of sight yet. The only question – which still remains – is whether we can be consistent in our final eight fixtures. We’ve already had one big game against Portsmouth, and the one at the Stadium of Light on 27th April may have a huge say in who occupies the top two spots.
4. Rochdale next and they’re struggling, how tough will it be?
Hopefully not very. But the term struggling can apply to 9 or 10 clubs in this league such is how close the relegation battle is. Not all of those will continue to struggle, and Rochdale can score goals so it could well be them that finds a bit of form. We need to assert our dominance early like we did against Accrington and find the second goal.
5. Score prediction
Teams always sit back against us, understandably, but I think we’ll have too much for Rochdale and win 3-0.