Should Sunderland rest Aiden McGeady for Fleetwood and Southend with play-offs looming? Six things learned from Portsmouth draw

Tom Flanagan scores the opening goal against Portsmouth.
Tom Flanagan scores the opening goal against Portsmouth.
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Sunderland’s automatic promotion hopes were pretty much ended with the home draw with Portsmouth.

Here’s what we learned from the 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light.

Play-offs it is for Sunderland then.

Two games to go, six points adrift, with a goal difference of minus seven to make up as well.

Barring a mathematical miracle, Sunderland won’t be going up automatically this season.

The lottery of the play-offs loom.

Sunderland must end the season on a high with back-to-back wins at Fleetwood and Southend and quickly get their heads around the challenge of the play-offs.

Should Aiden McGeady be rested this week?

With it being almost certain that Sunderland will be competing in the play-offs, should Aiden McGeady be rested this week?

The player of the season has been suffering with a fractured bone in his foot and being managed through the week.

Portsmouth gave him some rough treatment but he stood firm. He will be a key player in the play-offs though, so should he be rested this week?

Jon McLaughlin has quiet afternoon but luck isn’t with Sunderland at the other end.

McLaughlin barely had a save to make all afternoon, which was surprising given the attacking threat Pompey pose.

Sunderland’s defence, this week comprising of Tom Flanagan and Alim Ozturk, marshalled James Vaughan well with Lee Cattermole and Max Power doing a good shielding job in front.

Up the other end Craig MacGillivray enjoyed a man of the match display in the Pompey goal, making two stunning saves, pushing Sunderland efforts onto the woodwork and generally frustrating the hosts.

Sunderland options healthiest they’ve been in a while.

If it is to be the play-offs, and it almost certainly is, then Sunderland have a strong squad from which to pick from.

Adam Matthews made his return from the subs bench, coming on late on after Luke O’Nien hobbled off after another heavy challenge, the right-back a doubt for Tuesday night.

And with reece James, Dylan McGeouch returning to training, Ross has strong options from which to change games.

Will Grigg and Grant Leadbitter again having to make do with place on the bench.

Stadium of Light shook when Tom Flanagan scored.

The noise then recalled defender Flanagan powered home a ninth minute header to give Sunderland the lead was phenomenal.

The Wearside faithful again responding to the call to support the side in big numbers, as they have done all season.

41,129 inside the stadium, the Premier Concourse reopened for the second time this season. Portsmouth also backed by 3,000 fans, including one who thought it was a good idea to throw a flare into the home fans below.

Police dealt with the situation quickly, though there was the need for a short stoppage in play.

Sunderland can be proud of their fans though and they have a huge role to play ahead of the play-offs.

Jack Ross must settle on a back two.

Once again the centre backs were changed.

This time Jimmy Dunne axed. Tom Flanagan recalled.

The decision proved the right one with Pompey restricted and Flanagan impressing at both ends of the pitch.

But surely Ross needs to settle on a back two heading into the play-offs.

One thing is for sure, that will be a key area to improve the squad this summer.