Lee Johnson has this Sunderland message ahead of clash with 'dangerous' Accrington Stanley

Lee Johnson has said it is too early for a potential play-off campaign to have an impact on his Sunderland decisions.

Saturday, 24th April 2021, 6:00 am

The Black Cats boss is eager for his side to ensure they capitalise on any points dropped above them, and has also warned that they still have work to do to ensure that they secure a top-six spot.

The head coach is likely to reassess his team's position ahead of the long trip to Plymouth next weekend, but insists the only focus for now is on beating Accrington Stanley on Saturday.

The 2-2 draw with Hull City on Tuesday night extended Sunderland s winless run to five games, though large elements of the performance pleased Johnson.

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Ross Stewart scores against Accrington Stanley earlier this season

"I think it [extra play-off games] is a consideration, towards probably that Plymouth Argyle game and whether or not automatic promotion is still possible or not," Johnson said.

"There has got to be a consideration then with A) your league position, B) who the potential opponents are if we're in the play-offs, C) if you need to rest anyone and then you've also got the consideration of fair play in the competition as well.

"There is a lot of thought process that will go into that if we get there but at the moment it's still very much one game at a time and we'll do our best to beat Accrington Stanley.

"We'll try to win the next four games but the next one is Accrington and we know it's not in our hands [the top two]. Not only are we getting the result for results sake, we've also got to build performances, build belief going into a cup competition but we've still got to secure enough points so that we're in the play-offs."

Johnson has also warned his Sunderland side to expect a stronger Accrington Stanley side than the one they narrowly beat last month.

The Black Cats travelled to Accrington days after the Papa John's Trophy final triumph over Tranmere Rovers, with Ross Stewart and Charlie Wyke's second-half headers securing the win.

John Coleman's side still have faint aspirations of challenging for the play-offs and beat Doncaster Rovers 2-1 last time out.

"Accrington are a very dangerous side and we talked about when they were up there, that the big clubs would come through because of their squad and I think Accrington have been a real victim of two or three key injuries," Johnson said.

"They've got two or three of those injuries back now and they look a strong unit, they're physical and have good footballers in the side.

"Obviously we've played them before but I expect them to be stronger than when we played them originally because of the players they've got left."

Johnson is unlikely to have any of his injured players back for the game, with Aiden McGeady rated at 50/50 to return from a swollen foot.

Tom Flanagan, Dion Sanderson and Conor McLaughlin all remain sidelined, though the head coach is hopeful that all three could yet play a part before the end of the season.

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