Lynden Gooch has stressed the importance of Sunderland making sure they go into a two-and-a-half week break from League One action with a victory over Walsall.
Promotion-chasing Sunderland, fresh from their goalless draw with Barnsley at Oakwell on Tuesday evening, host Walsall at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.
Jack Ross’ side then have a lengthy break from league action as a result of international call-ups, which saw the trip to Fleetwood postponed, and Sunderland’s involvement in the Checkatrade Trophy final against Portsmouth on Sunday, March 31.
After this weekend’s game Sunderland don’t play again in League One until the rearranged trip to Accrington Stanley on April 3, the Wednesday following the cup final.
The draw with second-place Barnsley left Sunderland third, four points behind but with a game in hand.
Gooch knows nothing but a win on Saturday will help keep the pressure on before the break in league action.
“Saturday is another big game at home, we need to make sure we get the three points,” said Gooch.
“We need to put everything into Saturday, make sure we get the three points because then we have a little break going into the final at Wembley.
“Hopefully we will get it done.”
Strong winds affected both sides at Oakwell, with attractive and free-flowing football at a minimum during the hard-fought draw.
The point meant Sunderland have now taken four off Barnsley this season and extended the unbeaten run to 18 games since the defeat at Portsmouth in December.
Gooch added: “I think it was a fair result, first half they had the better chances.
“It was difficult in the wind.
“We had two great chances, which we were unlucky with.
“We take a point, we have taken four off them this season and they are second so it is a decent point.
“It is a difficult place to come, we saw that last season when we lost here.
“It is another point on the board and we made sure they didn’t win the game.
“It also keeps the unbeaten run going, we haven’t lost since December, on another day we could have nicked it,” he told the club website.