This is why Sunderland must retain hope of automatic promotion this season despite Coventry City loss

On Saturday, Sunderland versus Gillingham isn't the blockbuster match of matchday 37 in League One - but for SAFC it is of the utmost importance.

Monday, 2nd March 2020, 4:45 pm

Next week could be pivotal in Sunderland's automatic promotion bid, with three games in the space of eight days, before possibly no League One match for three weeks.

In that eight day spell, Sunderland don't face any of the top nine - they play Gillingham at home and Bristol Rovers and Blackpool away.

Also, next week, there are three clashes between teams in the top nine.

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Alim Ozturk in action for Sunderland.

Ipswich face Coventry at Portman Road but with the unpredictability of Ipswich Town at home this campaign, you can't predict which way that is going to go.

Then, Portsmouth have one of the biggest weeks of their season. If they want to claim automatic promotion, they must claim three points, as they face Peterborough away and then, Fleetwood Town at home.

It would take something astonishing from the Cod Army to take all three points away from Fratton Park, but Peterborough on their day are capable of taking apart any team - something which Sunderland saw earlier this season.

From now to May 3rd, there are 15 matches between teams from the top nine in League One.

Pompey still have to play five of the top nine, while both Coventry and Rotherham - the current top two - have to play four of the teams in the top nine.

All of the things I have just mentioned highlights just why we shouldn't get too down after Sunday's 1-0 defeat against Coventry. Lots of the top nine still have to play each other so teams are going to drop points, so it is important that between now and the end of the season, we keep picking up as many points as possible.

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