Sunderland boss has this message as his team prepare for the latest test of their promotion credentials

Lee Johnson says there is more to come from his Sunderland side as they prepare for the final eight games of the League One campaign.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 5:51 pm

Sunderland came through a challenging Easter weekend with their top-two hopes firmly intact, but face another stern test on Saturday when they face Nigel Adkins' Charlton Athletic.

The Addicks did not play on Monday but beat Doncaster Rovers in their last outing.

Johnson is hugely encouraged by the progress of his side during their current unbeaten run, but still sees area for improvement.

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Sunderland boss Lee Johnson

He said: "Definitely, but I have to be careful with that as well, I'm always looking for perfection which is impossible to find really.

"What's been interesting for us is that when we have our matchday review on what went well, there's a level of consistency to our performance even if we don't have that final edge.

"So for the first half at Peterborough, we controlled the game but only in the defensive third and the middle third. When it came to the final action in the box, I didn't think we committed enough numbers.

"We were often left with a 5-v-2 at the back which we didn't need, so it's those types of things which we've got to keep chipping away at.

"Part of that's because of the pitch, part of that's because you don't want to lose, there's all these elements of human nuture that you're almost fighting against as a coach.

"That's why I think your philosophy has got to be really strong, no matter what happens in a game."

Results are clearly all important at this stage of the season but Johnson insists that won't have any impact on his approach, and says thorough preparation is key to ensuring nerves and tension don't adversely affect performances in the run-in.

"You've still got to be consistent in your approach," he said.

"The result only comes from the performance.

"It can get nervy and I understand that but I always say, the confidence comes from the preparation. That's where a player gets edgy and they start shinning balls clear at 1-0 down, stuff like that, it's because the fundamentals aren't in place and there's a lack of clarity.

"These are the things you have to work on in training.

"For example, man sent off for us, how do we cope? Man sent off for the opposition, how do we create the overloads? Last five minutes, how do we manage a lead? What are our ambitions if it's 0-0 away at Hull with ten minutes to play.

“These are the things you go through so that when you get to that point, everybody has that belief in what you're doing.

“We’re always looking to judge whether players need a shot of confidence, I’ve had players in my office in this week where we’ve tried to build that belief,” he added.

“At the same time there’ve been some players who I think have maybe looked a little bit loose in training, and therefore you need to address that going into Saturday’s game.

“It’s constantly trying to read people. You want to try and keep it nice and even where people make good decisions, knowing training has been good and you have that trust.”

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