Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole calls for unity after disappointing draws with Peterborough and Portsmouth
Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole has called for unity following back-to-back league draws which have severely damaged the Black Cats' automatic promotion hopes.
Sunderland have slipped six points adrift of the top two with two games left to play, and will need both Barnsley and Portsmouth to slip-up to avoid the play-offs.
Jack Ross' side were unable to claim all three points against Pompey at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon, after Tom Flanagan's opener was cancelled out by Jamal Lowe.
Cattermole felt it was a game his side should have won, yet the 31-year-old was keen to focus on the positives.
"It's a game we felt we needed to win to get to where we want to which is automatic (promotion)," he told SAFC.com.
"Obviously it's still not completely over but we might need to start getting our heads round looking at the play-offs because that's the way it's looking.
"We need to finish the season strong, I thought it was a great performance from the boys and we were the only team who looked like they really wanted to win the game.
"We're disappointed at the game but when we look back, maybe on Monday, we've got to be happy with the performance.
"If we play like that for the next couple of games, I think we're going to win games."
With away games at Fleetwood and Southend still to come, Cattermole knows his side must finish the league campaign strongly to avoid a potential play-off hangover.
With that in mind, the midfielder has issued a rallying cry to everyone connected with the club, in a bid to help Sunderland get over the line.
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"We certainly shouldn't start feeling sorry for ourselves, that's not going to get us anywhere," added Cattermole.
"That's everybody as a club, we're in a good position, I think we'd have taken this at the start of the season.
"I'd be very disappointed if people start being negative about what we've done this season because I think everyone has put a real shift in, the whole club, the fans, the city, the manager, the staff, the new owner. Everyone has bought into what we wanted.
"There have been huge highs this season and I think it's been a positive season so lets not feel sorry for ourselves, lets get our head round getting promoted because it's still right on the cards."
Automatic promotion was in Sunderland's hands at the start of the week, before draws with Peterborough (on Monday) and Portsmouth saw the Black Cats lose momentum.
The Pompey draw was Sunderland's 19th stalemate in the league this season, yet Cattermole is keen to look ahead rather than what might have been.
"There's no point talking about the two draws, they're against good teams," added Cattermole. "The damage was done with Burton and Coventry at home,"
"It's not the time to talk about stuff like that, we've had a lot of good performances, we've won games late.
"As a whole we've probably just fell a little bit short, other seasons we might have got there but we're a new group, almost a new club, in our approach this season.
"We've had a lot tougher situations and worse situations to be in so lets enjoy the situation we're in, if there's one way of going up I think this would be a huge high."