Carl Winchester has this warning for Lincoln City, Oxford United and Blackpool ahead of Sunderland's League One play-off campaign
Sunderland’s best is yet to come as they prepare for the League One play-offs.
That’s the verdict of midfielder Carl Winchester, who believes that the ‘frightening’ talent at the Stadium of Light will stand the side in good stead ahead of the end of season shootout.
Sunderland have won just one of their last nine games in League One but managed to seal fourth place, teeing up a semi-final tie with Lincoln City.
And while a final day draw with already-relegated Northampton Town was an underwhelming end to the regular season, Winchester is confident that the Black Cats can move up through the gears as they head into the play-offs.
“Of course,” he said, when asked if the best was yet to come from Sunderland.
“I've come from Forest Green so it's my first time at a club like this, and since I've walked through the door the talent I've seen is frightening.
"It's much better than this level, so hopefully we're capable of showing that in the play-offs.
"If Lincoln are watching us they'll probably think 'oh Sunderland', but I believe in the squad and know what we can produce when we're on it and it's a match for anyone in this league.
"We know we have the quality in the dressing room much better than we showed against Northampton,” he continued.
"It was just one of those games, but the play-offs we'll be ready. I'm confident in the squad big time.”
The stalemate with Northampton saw Winchester net his first goal for the club – with the January signing having come agonisingly close in previous weeks.
And the 28-year-old is hopeful that he can continue adding to his tally during his time on Wearside.
"Obviously you want to win to get momentum going into the play-offs, but I'm delighted to get a goal,” admitted Winchester.
"It's my first goal for Sunderland and hopefully there will be many more.
"The game was pretty even, a pretty dead game, but we all know going into the play-offs that we need to be better than that. With the rest and the training the gaffer has for us, I'm sure we'll be confident.
"I felt last week against Plymouth that I had a couple of opportunities that I should have scored really.
"I'm always trying to get myself in the box because I know sometimes the ball might just fall to you and luckily that happened today.”
For now, Winchester and his teammates turn their attentions to their first semi-final tie at Lincoln on May 19.
Like many of the players in the Sunderland dressing room, the midfielder has previous in the play-offs – but is hoping for happier memories this time around.
"I was involved at Forest Green and unfortunately I actually got sent-off!
"But I've got a good feeling about this squad. There's a lot of talent and some big characters and I think we'll do well for this club.
"The lads have been through it and they know how hard it can be.
"That's always good to have as they'll know what it takes to get us over the line.”