Sunderland have been enjoying a very encouraging run of form in League One that has propelled the Black Cats into the race for automatic promotion as the end-of-season run-in approaches.
Lee Johnson’s side secured the Papa John’s Trophy as well in the last few weeks, with the takeover of the club having also been completed in what has been a hectic last month or so for the club. However, a five-game winning run in all competitions was brought to an end on Saturday with the Black Cats being held by promotion rivals Lincoln City at the Stadium of Light.
It was a point that keeps Sunderland two points adrift of second-placed Peterborough United, but the Black Cats will be aiming to get back to winning ways when they take on Bristol Rovers at the weekend. There is still plenty of time left for them to overhaul the hap on the two teams above them and there will be confidence that they can do so in the remaining games.
Ahead of what will be another important week in Sunderland’s season. We take a look at some of the latest news surrounding the Black Cats…
Johnson issues automatic promotion message concerning Sunderland rivals
Following Saturday’s draw with Lincoln, Johnson was asked by the media whether he feels that the race for automatic promotion has been reduced down to a three-horse race between the Black Cats, Peterborough and Hull City. However, he insisted that Lincoln are still well in the race with them being just two points behind his side at the moment following the stalemate.
The situation at the top of League One is complicated with the Black Cats and Peterborough both having games in hand on Lincoln and also two games in hand on leaders Hull. That means that it could indeed all come down to how well those two teams perform in their games in hand as to whether they are able to pull away from Lincoln and catch up with the Tigers.
Johnson seems to be wanting Sunderland to remain cautious and not get carried away with themselves despite them being on a ten-game unbeaten run. That seems a sensible approach and you would have to agree that Lincoln are still very much in the race at the moment.
Johnson heaps praise on Lee Burge following response to recent omission
After the game against Lincoln, Johnson reserved special praise for Sunderland goalkeeper Lee Burge, who had been able to make three important saves against the Imps to ensure that the Black Cats at least extended their unbeaten run (Sofascore). It was a performance that showed the confidence the keeper is playing with at the moment.
Burge was dropped in favour of Remi Matthews for the 2-1 defeat away at Shrewsbury Town back in February, but following an error by the former Bolton Wanderers keeper in that loss he was recalled instantly back to the starting line-up. That seems to have done wonders for the keeper who has been in excellent form during the ten-game unbeaten run.
Johnson insisted that he has been impressed with the quality that Burge has been able to produce over the last few weeks and was quick to praise the way he has been able to form a strong connection with the back four in recent weeks.
Dion Sanderson issues message over his potential future
One of Sunderland’s most impressive performers in their recent resurgence has been Wolves loanee Dion Sanderson, and the defender’s form has seen him be linked with moves to the likes of Sheffield United, Brighton and Crystal Palace with his future at his parent club uncertain.
Sanderson has now insisted that if the chance presented itself he would be wanting to remain with Wolves in the Premier League. The defender feels that he is a Premier League quality player and that he can make an impact for his parent club if they were to hand him the chance to do so.
That is a major potential blow for the Black Cats, who could now face a really difficult task in trying to potentially make a permanent move for him in the summer if they are promoted to the Championship.