Sunderland forward Aiden O'Brien reveals the dressing room mood ahead of key fixtures against Oxford and Peterborough United

Aiden O'Brien says Sunderland will keep a level head as they approach a crucial weekend in the bid to win automatic promotion from League One.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 7:51 am

O'Brien returned from injury on Saturday to score the winner against Joey Barton's Bristol Rovers, a result that moved the Black Cats to within three points of Hull City in top spot.

Sunderland have played two games fewer than Grant McCann's side.

The Black Cats face Oxford United on Good Friday before a clash with second-placed Peterborough United on Easter Monday; two games that are likely to prove pivotal.

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Sunderland forward Aiden O'Brien

Sunderland's unbeaten return, now stretching to twelve games across all competitions, means the squad is full of confidence but O'Brien insists they will be heeding Lee Johnson's message.

While thrilled with his team's character, Johnson is adamant there is more to come.

"We are [confident], but we're also keeping a level head about ourselves," O'Brien said.

"We knew that Bristol Rovers were bottom half of the table and it's easy to think that we should run all over these, but it isn't like that. You know what football's like, especially in League One, and anyone can beat anyone.

"You have to keep your head right and that's what the manager has been doing to try and keep us level-headed. Yeah we are good enough, but let's not get too far ahead and get the job done then move on to the next one.

"That's what we've been doing - keeping ourselves really level-headed, grinding out results and making sure we take home the three points."

O'Brien is nevertheless aware of the opportunity Sunderland have and believes the response to that last defeat at Shrewsbury shows they are up for the challenge.

"We've got such fight, mentality and strong characters in the group - that little blip isn't going to change how good we've been this season," he said.

"That's shown because now we've gone ten games unbeaten. We're a force to be taken seriously.

"We've got the fight, we've got the quality. Why not get promoted this year? We're there, we're three points behind with two games in hand on Hull. Ten games to go, who's got more fight? Who's got more hunger in the bellies to take it home?"

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