Sunderland will be aiming to halt a run of four league games without a victory this weekend when they face Accrington Stanley at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats' hopes of achieving automatic promotion to the Championship have been severely hampered by their recent blip in form which has resulted in them picking up just five points this month.
Although Sunderland were able to illustrate signs of promise earlier this week during their 2-2 draw with league leaders Hull City, they know that they will need to pick up their performance levels if they are to keep their hopes of securing a return to the second-tier on track.
With a play-off place all-but guaranteed for the Black Cats, it is looking increasingly likely they will have to secure promotion via this knock-out competition.
Making reference to his side's current situation, Grant Leadbitter has admitted that it is imperative for Sunderland to end the regular season on a positive note as it will provide them with the confidence needed to tackle the play-offs.
Speaking to the Sunderland Echo ahead of the club's showdown with Accrington, the midfielder said: "We have to go into the last four games to win, but our performances have got to be on par so if it's the play-offs we go into it playing well.
"We can't go into it not playing well - we need to go in with confidence, playing well and the way we want to attack.
"I'm experienced enough now to know what we need to do.
"We need to stay calm, because I know what it takes.
"We have to just continue being confident and playing well."
GIVEMESPORT's Joshua Cole says...
When you consider just how ruthless the play-offs can be, it is hardly a surprise that Leadbitter is desperate for his side to get back to winning ways as soon as possible in League One.
Having missed out on promotion during the 2018/19 campaign in the final of this knock-out competition, the Black Cats will be under no illusions about just how difficult it will be banish these particular demons.
However, after securing victory at Wembley Stadium in the EFL Trophy final earlier this year against Tranmere Rovers, Sunderland now know what it takes to deliver the goods under pressure and thus it may be worth using this particular clash as a reference point.
Leadbitter, who is currently averaging an impressive WhoScored match rating of 6.89 in League One, could use his previous experiences of achieving promotion with Sunderland and Middlesbrough to his advantage next month by helping his team-mates get over the line.News Now - Sport News