Lee Bowyer on what he made of Sunderland's Portsmouth win and why stakes are higher for the Black Cats on Sunday

Lee Bowyer insists the pressure is bigger for Sunderland ahead of Sunday's League One play-off final.

By Phil Smith
Friday, 24 May, 2019, 13:29
Lee Bowyer says Sunderland's striker spending makes the stakes higher for them on Sunday

The sides meet at Wembley for the chance to seal promotion to the Championship.

Bowyer has relied exclusively on loan and free agent additions to bolster his squad this year and pointed to Sunderland's striker spending as the reason the stakes are higher for Jack Ross.

The Black Cats, though, would question the fees he claimed the club has paid.

“They have got an advantage because they have been in this situation there,” he told London News Online.

“That [Checkatrade Trophy] was a cup final but this is a cup final really, the only difference is you go up or you don’t.

“There is a reward at the end of it. They have been there, seen it and done it. But they will still be nervous, for sure. Any player on that pitch – even if they are playing there for the 10th time – there is going to be a bit of nerves.

“It’s a massive match for both clubs but I’d say even more so for them because they have just come down.

“And they have spent a lot of money trying to get back up.

“The other night at Portsmouth they had Will Grigg on the bench and they paid £4million for him.

“I’d love that scenario for myself!

“If you need a goal you’ve got a top striker like him sitting on the bench.

“They probably have a bit more pressure because they have spent a lot. Charlie Wyke cost £1m [sic], at least.

“I said the other night after the Doncaster game that what we’ve achieved has been exceptional,” Bowyer added.

“Near enough all the clubs in our division have spent money, one way or another.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

“Even Southend – we sold Harry Lennon to them for £50,000. It’s still £50,000. Nearly all the clubs at our level have spent a little bit here and there.

“We haven’t spent a penny. It just shows how good our recruitment was at the start of the season.

“We hardly had anyone on the bench at Sunderland [on the opening day] and everyone was panicking. But our recruitment in the end was exceptional.

“We need to keep pushing for this one last game. We’ve done well, don’t get me wrong, but we need to finish it off now. If we can finish it off it will be some achievement.”

Bowyer travelled to Fratton Park to watch Sunderland book their place at Wembley last week.

He praised their 'professional' display and hopes that his Charlton side will be back to their best after an indiffernet showing in their second leg against Doncaster.

"That game was pretty straight forward – the two teams just matched each other up,” he said.

“Sunderland got through, it was a professional job from them.

“But ours wasn’t straight forward, it was never going to be that!

“To see everybody come together was a special night for me. The atmosphere was unreal and the effort the players put in.

“I think that will probably put us in better stead for the final. I thought the occasion got to some of the players.

“That’s probably the worst we have played in a long time. I said that to them on Sunday. I had to be honest with them.

“I don’t think we will [play like that again]. I think that occasion will help us with the final, we will be ready for it more now. I’m glad it happened then and not on Sunday.”