Sunderland are gearing up for a massive few weeks in their history.
After wrapping up fourth spot in League One the club’s attention now turns to the play-offs as they look to secure promotion to the Championship.
They’ll face Lincoln City over two legs in the semi-finals, before the winners of that tie take on Oxford United or Blackpool in the showpiece event at Wembley Stadium at the end of the month.
Before then, however, Lee Johnson has plenty of work to do.
Here’s the latest news to come from the Stadium Of Light.
Steve Howey delivers play-off prediction
Former Newcastle United and Sunderland defender Steve Howey has predicted that the Black Cats will lose in the play-off final.
The Wearsiders face Lincoln City over two legs in the semi-finals, and after a poor recent run of form, Howey believes that the club will fall just short in their pursuit of promotion.
Speaking to exclusively to Football League World, Howey said: “I think that they were on a real good vein of form. And then they lost it completely, I mean really it’s typical Sunderland, they had the opportunity at one point, if they had won their games in hand, to have gone up as champions, certainly automatic promotion, and that went by the wayside.
“Blackpool seem like their bogey team at the moment and there’s still a chance that they might face them. But you know, Sunderland do what Sunderland do and they’ll probably get to the final and then get beat.”
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Sunderland target discusses future
Josh Doig has dropped a big hint that he’s enjoying life with current club Hibernian amid recent interest from Sunderland.
The Black Cats were linked with a move for the 18-year-old full-back earlier this year, but speaking to the press, Doig made it abundantly clear that he’s enjoying life under former Wearsiders’ boss Jack Ross.
Speaking to the Edinburgh Evening News, Doig said: “I absolutely adore it here at Hibs. You can see with the likes of John McGinn … I know Hibs is a great pathway to go to higher places, but it is still a massive club in itself.
“I don’t think there’s a better place than Hibs to develop as a player. I know that myself as I have come on so much. Being here is good for me.”
A potential injury blow
Sunderland will be made to sweat on the fitness of Ross Stewart as attentions turns to the play-offs.
The 24-year-old was expected to be involved during the weekend’s 1-1 draw with Northampton Town, but instead missed out on a place in the matchday squad, with Lee Johnson revealing a hamstring tear.
Speaking to Chronicle Live, he said: “Ross suffered a grade two hamstring tear – or tweak, or strain, depending on how you want to look at it.
“In saying that, he is presenting very well, he feels good, and that’s one of the reasons why potentially we can chuck in a friendly on Friday to give him another sharpener.
“Next week it will be time for the players to be honest about what they need.”