Chris Coleman has told his players to focus on their performances ahead of this weekend’s crucial clash with Burton Albion.
Sunderland dropped to the bottom of the league on Saturday after drawing 2-2 at Reading.
Nigel Clough’s Burton moved ahead of the Black Cats in the table after a 3-1 win at home to Derby County.
Coleman’s side remain six points from safety after Birmingham City lost 2-0 to Wolves yesterday, with fourth-bottom Bolton and third-bottom Barnsley drawing 2-2.
Both Sunderland and Burton, then, could be relegated at the Stadium of Light this Saturday.
Coleman, however, has urged his players to keep their hopes alive for another week.
They finish the season with a trip to Craven Cottage to face Fulham before Wolves arrive on Wearside for the final game of the campaign.
Coleman said: “The message to the squad has to be the same. We can’t think about what may be.
“It is not about whoever loses could finish bottom, it is not about none of that, it is about us still being in with an outside chance. Even if we weren’t, we are professional people.
“We have a job to do. We can’t show what we have been showing and then go into this game and show something different.
“We can’t do that, we have a job to do and to get a result and to make sure we get another performance.”
“Of course, relegation is the dreaded word, isn’t it? The feared word.
“We will have the same weeks training, our preparation has been good. the boys have to show the same mentality.
“If things go against us, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves – it has to be the opposite of that.
“What will be will be, at the end of the day.
“We have to have a right good crack and put in the same level of performance.”
Coleman has not discussed the prospects or consequences of relegation with his team, but now it seems closer than ever.
He said: “I don’t ban them [talking about relegation] – they are grown men, whatever they want to discuss.
“I have never heard any of that in front of me anyway. I don’t know what they talk about when I’m not there!
“There has not been any ban from me.”