Sunderland AFC news: Promotion rivals suffer big injury blow ahead of League One run-in as Joey Barton distances himself from Preston North End job

Sunderland are set for a crucial Easter weekend – one which could define their promotion chances.

By James Copley
Sunday, 4th April 2021, 8:58 am

Sunderland face Oxford United in League One at the Stadium of Light on Good Friday and then travel to play Peterborough United on Easter Monday.

With the Black Cats just two points behind second-placed Posh, it feels like a big week for the Wearsiders as the club enters April.

Indeed Lee Johnson’s side enjoyed a superb March as the Wearsiders won at Wembley for the first time in 48-years and went seven games unbeaten.

Portsmouth's Jordy Hiwula celebrates with teammate Ellis Harrison, Ben Close, and Marcus Harness after scoring a goal.

Here, though, we take you through all of the latest news from across the division:

Promotion rivals suffer injury blow ahead of League One run-in

Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley has confirmed striker Jordy Hiwula has suffered a potentially season-ending injury.

The attacker started Pompey’s last game against Ipswich Town – which ended in a 2-1 win for the Fratton Park club.

“With regards to Jordy, he has just come out of the boot on Monday and we’ll probably accelerate the process, that’s the aim,” Cowley said to The News.

“We might have to extend the season for him to play, that’s our ambition that he will. I think he can come back – and then when he does can make an impact.”

Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton responds to Preston North End links

Joey Barton has distanced himself from links to the vacant Preston North End job.

“It’s not April Fools' is it?” Barton, who recently signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Sunderland’s League One rivals Bristol Rovers, said.

“I’ve reiterated since I’ve been at the club, what we came to Rovers for,” Barton said. “Walking around the city, I see fans interacting saying, ‘Go on the Gas, get the lads going’.

“For me as a football man, that’s important to have that support.

“The job that is in front of us has been tough, it hasn’t been easy, don’t get me wrong. But we always took on the project of what the football club could be within the city and nothing for me has changed.

“Look, I know Peter Ridsdale and Preston is a fantastic club but Bristol Rovers is everything I need at this moment on my coaching journey.”

“We’ve committed, we’ve moved away from our families and the support I’ve had, overwhelmingly, has been positive and all we want to do is deliver on the promises and the things we’ve spoken about in recent weeks,” the Rovers boss added.

"I would be a hypocrite if I was to walk about at this juncture. Firstly, I’m in the perfect place to learn, I’ve had nothing but support from everybody, and I’m loving (it), albeit tainted with the losses and the losing feeling at the minute – because that drives me crazy and makes me feel sick.

“But that will turn and we will be able to deliver on the promises that we’ve given to the Rovers faithful, to the Gasheads, and we’ll get this club and this city, certainly the blue quarters half of it, rocking and rolling and feeling positive about their football club.

“I won’t be leaving until I’ve exhausted any avenue to get this club winning.”

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