Sunderland go into one of the biggest games in their history when they face Portsmouth in the play-off semi-final this weekend, with a Championship return on the agenda.
The two sides have already met on three occasions, but will make it five before the season is out. Pompey were victors in the EFL Trophy final, but there’s a much bigger prize at stake now.
Sunderland might be without the services of Aiden McGeady, their talisman winger who has chipped in with assists and goals this season. He’s been in terrific form, but a broken foot threatens to rule him out of the matches.
Jack Ross has been reticent to play Lynden Gooch, and George Honeyman has filled in, but he’s not a natural winger. It’s time to stand up and be counted and if McGeady doesn’t play, they have another potential match winner.
Lewis Morgan joined on loan from Celtic in January and after taking some time to establish himself, has shown flashes of what he’s capable of. He doesn’t have the same impact as McGeady, but he’s a natural winger who can offer more width and running than the likes of Honeyman.
At just 22, he’s got big game experience, having appeared for Scotland and for Celtic. That might give him the edge, both matches promise to be cauldrons of atmosphere with huge pressure attached.
Someone must feed Will Grigg. Both him and Charlie Wyke have been misfiring in recent weeks and if that keeps up, they’ll need wide players to get into scoring positions as well. Maybe Honeyman doesn’t possess that natural instinct, but Morgan does.
Sunderland need a creative spark; they need a player who can get on the ball and make things happen. McGeady has done that all season, but without him they’ve looked off the pace.
Financially, Championship football is something that Sunderland need. Even with that taken out of the equation, they’re a top flight side in the waiting.
Perhaps their bright young thing from Parkhead can help them begin to realise that once again.