Any shrinking violets or doubters can leave immediately - Sunderland need players that will give their last drop for Portsmouth play-off battle

It’s been a long, gruelling League One campaign for Sunderland that has finally come to an end but that just leads into two - hopefully three - play-off games that are probably bigger than most of the Sunderland squad have ever played in before.

By Gary Rowell
Monday, 06 May, 2019, 14:32
Sunderland forward Chris Maguire has battled back from a fractured leg to play his part in the play-offs.

The official season ended in anti-climax, losing momentum at the wrong time and missing out on the main objective of automatic promotion.

There was another near miss in the Wembley Checkatrade Trophy final but if the players can raise themselves just three more times and can come out on top in the play-offs all that will be forgotten and the season will be seen as a resounding success.

The whole future of the club depends on the future of the next few games, history will view the current players as heroes if they are successful and that will guarantee them a warm welcome back to the Stadium of Light long after their careers are over.

They have got to imagine, then make happen, winning their last game of the season at Wembley with thousands of ecstatic Sunderland fans going wild because if that can’t motivate you when wearing that special red and white shirt then nothing will.

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Now is the time for strong characters, any shrinking violets or doubters can leave the building immediately - we need players with positive attitudes, fighters who will give their last drop for themselves, their teammates, the club and especially the fans.

So with all that at stake, Sunderland host Portsmouth in the first leg of the play-off game, a team they have already faced three times this season without a win.

However, I definitely don’t fear Portsmouth and nor should the players. They only beat Sunderland at Fratton Park when Sunderland went down to ten men for most of the second half and the other two games were draws, I am not counting the penalty shoot-out.

After the last Sunderland game with Portsmouth just a couple of weeks ago, there was friction and bust-ups between the players at the full-time whistle so it will be interesting if they take that into the game on Saturday,

I won’t mind if they do, an electric Stadium of Light, energised by two teams going after each other should work to our advantage but the players must keep cool heads with so much at stake as it just might come down to which team handles the intense pressure the best.