Sunderland's gap to safety could rise to SEVEN points tonight, with just nine Championship games remaining.
The Black Cats are bottom of the table on 28 points, currently four points adrift of fourth-bottom Barnsley who play their game in hand this evening.
They host Norwich City in a 7.45pm kick-off at Oakwell and if they beat the Canaries the gap facing Sunderland would rise to seven points with just 27 left to play for in the remaining weeks of the 2017-18 campaign.
Struggling Sunderland currently need to win two games just to get out of the drop zone given the goal difference of -28 is 11 worse than Barnsley's.
Burton Albion are second bottom, two points ahead of Sunderland on 30 points and they also play their game in hand tonight away to Sheffield United, one of six league games.
Should Barnsley taste defeat and Burton win then the Brewers would pull themselves out of the drop zone and five points clear of Sunderland.
Sunderland will be hoping both Burton and Barnsley fail to pick up points and pull themselves further away from the Black Cats.
Sunderland host Preston North End at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon ahead of a two-week international break.