Sunderland are gearing up for another crucial week in their quest to secure automatic promotion from League One with the Black Cats having kept themselves firmly in the mix with their win at Bristol Rovers.
Lee Johnson’s side managed to find a way to secure all three points with a 1-0 success at Bristol Rovers, despite them not playing at their best. That leaves them in a very strong position with games in hand over both Peterborough United and Hull City as they try and overtake the pair in the remaining matches of the season. Confidence will be high that they can do that.
The Black Cats are set to face two massive games over the Easter period, with them first facing Oxford United, who are still in the mix of teams chasing a play-off place, on Good Friday. While then comes a potentially season-defining trip to second-placed Peterborough United next Monday for a game that could decide which of the two clubs make it into the Championship.
As Sunderland prepare for those crunch clashes, we round-up some of the latest news concerning the Black Cats…
Aiden O’Brien delivers an encouraging Sunderland message
Sunderland forward Aiden O’Brien has insisted that the Black Cats are well up for the fight ahead of the end-of-season run-in. While he has also expressed that he is feeling confident that himself ad Charlie Wyke can cause havoc for defences between now and the end of the campaign.
The forward managed to register the all-important winning goal for the Black Cats during their 1-0 win at Bristol Rovers on Saturday, as he returned to action and looked a real threat. Johnson will be aiming to see more of the same from him throughout the remaining games and he will have been enthused by the link-up play between him and Wyke.
O’Brien also revealed that he has a strong bond with Johnson and the likes of Aiden McGeady and Wyke and that is helping him feel confident of making a real difference for the side.
MK Dons keen to secure Will Grigg on permanent deal from Sunderland
MK Dons manager Russell Martin has reiterated his desire to see the club keep hold of Sunderland forward Will Grigg beyond the end of the season. The forward has managed to re-find his form since arriving back at the club he had scored 20 goals for in the 2014/15 campaign in January. He has so far managed to score three goals and provide three assists in 12 appearances (Sofascore).
Grigg’s long-term future certainly seems to be away from Sunderland, and they would likely be keen to sanction a permanent transfer for him in the summer to get him off their wage bill. That means that MK Dons wanting to sign him on a permanent basis is a boost for the Black Cats and they will hope he can continue to impress and maybe drive his valuation up further.
Kevin Phillips backs Charlie Wyke to stay with Sunderland
One major potential issue that Sunderland face ahead of the summer is the futures of their out-of-contract players. Key players such as Charlie Wyke, Aiden McGeady and Luke O’Nien all see their respective deals come to an end in the summer. That means that Johnson could be needing a massive transfer window whatever division his side are playing in.
Phillips, speaking to Football Insider, has now suggested that he thinks the Black Cats will manage to sort out a fresh deal for Wyke, who has fired in 22 league goals already this term (Sofascore). While he also believes the forward will be able to step up to the Championship and impress were he to stay and the club earn promotion this term.