Sunderland boss Lee Johnson has this message ahead of Peterborough United clash

Lee Johnson says the result of Monday's crunch clash with Peterborough United will not define the race for automatic promotion.

Sunday, 4th April 2021, 4:30 pm

Sunderland, Hull City and Peterborough United all registered wins on Good Friday, with Johnson's side now having the chance to climb into the top two when they face Darren Ferguson's side.

Johnson says his selection for the 3-1 win over Oxford United was not influenced by the upcoming game, but says the conditions at London Road will be a factor come Monday.

The Head Coach also warned his side that they cannot afford a sluggish spell in the game like the one they in the first half against Oxford.

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Sunderland forward Aiden O'Brien

"You'll have seen the Peteborough pitch, it's almost like tumbleweed in that it gets quicker when you pass the ball," he said.

"Peterborough play that pitch really well, they've got good footballers who almost like volley it to each other, so that will be a consideration [in terms of selection].

"I genuinely don't think [it's a title-decider]. It's an opportunity for three points and it is the same for them. There's still so many games to play, 27 points still to play for us.

"There's an awful lot that can and will go on between now and end of the season," he added.

"Of course, if you win the game then it gives you a nudge up.

"That's why we've got to keep taking our lessons from each game, and we can't have that 15-20 spell we had in the first half here against Peterborough because they will capitalise on that.

"There's players I know well there, they've got threats in players like Jonson Clarke-Harris and Sammie Szmodics.

"We'll prepare as we always do, go again and prepare extremely hard to win three points for our supporters."

Johnson also explained his surprise call to leave Aiden O'Brien out of the starting XI in Saturday afternoon.

O'Brien returned from a hamstring injury at Bristol Rovers last week, scoring the winner in a vital win.

He was substituted in a pre-meditated move after an hour of that game, and Johnson confirmed that his decision was partially down to his ongoing recovery.

The forward will be fit if selected for Monday's game.

Lynden Gooch moved into a central role for the win on Saturday, scoring and registering an assist. The 25-year-old was moved to right-back following Mark Sykes' threat and proved to be an excellent attacking outlet in that role.

"There were a few things really," Johnson said.

"Cameron Brannagan's mobility, we wanted to get around him, he's a good player but not the most mobile.

"Lynden got his goal as well, which is good.

"Aiden O'Brien didn't look great to me on Wednesday just in terms of his hamstring.

"He was fit, he could have come on and he certainly could have played, but when you pick a team all these minute details come into it and you then pick your team based on that."

Johnson is likely to be picking from the same squad on Monday following Jordan Jones’ return.