The Insider: Sunderland will want to deliver response against League One automatic promotion rivals Portsmouth
Richard Mennear, from the Sunderland Echo, gives his verdict ahead of the Black Cats’ League One automatic promotion showdown with Pompey.
There is an expectation of some kind of response from Sunderland against Kenny Jackett’s men.
The Black Cats need to win all three remaining games to stand any chance of winning automatic promotion.
They’re going to have to take nine points to be in with a chance of a top-two spot after the disappointing defeat to Coventry and the draw at Peterborough on Easter Monday.
It felt very much like a loss at Peterborough, to be honest. It was two points dropped.
Having taken the lead so late in the 87th minute, they should have seen the game out from there – Jack Ross said that himself.
To be fair to Sunderland, they’ve shown character throughout the season.
They’ve got a good squad of professionals.
At times a bit of quality has been lacking and 18 draws is too many.
If they don’t automatically then that is what will have cost them.
Although you cannot question the commitment or desire this season.
Some fans have resigned themselves to the play-offs, but there’s a significant chunk who remain hopeful.
They’ve got nothing to lose now with three games to go, win all of them and see where it takes you.
They are four of five teams who are on course for a big points total this season and this is going to be a huge game for both clubs.
Sunderland will be bang up for Saturday.
But it’s an in-form Pompey side that stand in the way, so it should be a classic.
The players will not need any lifting ahead of it, they know what is at stake.
It’s going to be a huge crowd with 40,000 expected. There are only going to be four sides with bigger attendances across England this weekend.
This week, Aiden McGeady revealed he has been playing with a fracture in his foot, which is unusual.
The winger has not been training, just playing games and should feature this weekend.
It’s being monitored so if there was any kind of deterioration, Jack Ross would not risk further injury.
The Republic of Ireland international is vitally important to Sunderland with 14 goals this season.
Chris Maguire could possibly be in contention for a start.
He’s just coming back from a leg fracture but one who will relish the big-game atmosphere.
Front man Charlie Wyke has been a real focal point in recent weeks.
A return of three goals and the same number of assists is the past seven games have been key.