Sunderland manager isn’t ruling out Portsmouth in automatic promotion race following his side’s draw with Barnsley

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Sunderland manager Jack Ross believes Pompey are not out of the League One automatic promotion race. 

The Blues closed the gap on their top-two rivals with a 3-2 victory over Walsall last night.

Sunderland manager Jack Ross. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Sunderland manager Jack Ross. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Kenny Jackett’s side took advantage of second-placed Barnsley and third-placed Sunderland both dropping points.

They played out a goalless draw at Oakwell, meaning Pompey are six points off the automatics with nine games remaining. 

Ross admitted it’s going to be difficult to dislodge Barnsley from the top two.

But he feels the Black Cats and Pompey still have a slight chance. 

‘Portsmouth are not far away either, three teams in this league have had unbelievable seasons,’ Ross told the Sunderland Echo.

‘We have come to a team that has not lost at home, like we haven’t, on a good run.

‘So it is not easy, far from it, it makes it even more challenging to gain automatic promotion but we have kept ourselves in it.

‘We have a lot of points to play for. The game didn't pan out as I imagined due to the weather conditions.’

Pompey and Sunderland will do battle to be crowned Checkatrade Trophy champions on Sunday, March 31.

The two sides meet at Wembley in the final of the competition.

The Blues have sold more than 30,000 tickets so far for their return to the national stadium since 2010.

The Black Cats’ allocation of 38,979 was snapped up earlier today.