After missing out on automatic promotion to the Championship, Sunderland will now be aiming to achieve play-off glory later this month via a trip to Wembley Stadium.
However, in order to reach the final of this particular competition, the Black Cats will need to overcome a Lincoln City side who have exceeded expectations in League One this season under the guidance of manager Michael Appleton.
Considering that both teams ended the regular campaign on the same amount of points, it will may take a moment of magic to decide the outcome of this particular tie.
For Sunderland's sake, they will be hoping that the likes of Charlie Wyke and Aiden McGeady will be firing on full cylinders in the first-leg of their clash with Lincoln next weekend.
Whereas the former of the two Black Cats players has managed to find the back of the net on 25 occasions in the third-tier, McGeady's abundance of creativity has resulted in him providing 15 assists for his team-mates in all competitions.
One of the players who will be forced to watch on from the sidelines for this tie is Dion Sanderson who had his season curtailed last month due to a back injury.
A stand-out performer for Sunderland in League One since joining the club on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, the defender was named as the Supporters' Young Player of the Year earlier this week after making 28 appearances for the club.
Making reference to the Black Cats' upcoming clash with Lincoln, Sanderson has admitted that he believes the club will defeat Appleton's side and go on to win the play-off final against either Oxford United or Blackpool in his absence.
Speaking to the Sunderland Echo about whether his side will achieve promotion later this month, the 21-year-old said: "I have no doubt about it.
"I believe in this team and the lads believe in themselves and that's the main thing.
"I think we've got a good mentality, a good group of boys, experienced players as well - so I believe we'll kick on and finish the job."
GIVEMESPORT's Joshua Cole says...
Whilst Sunderland will unquestionably miss the presence of Sanderson in the heart of their defence in the first-leg of their clash with Lincoln next Wednesday, there is no reason why they cannot secure a positive result at Sincil Bank.
Considering that they have only lost three games away from home in League One this season, the Black Cats know that a strong display against the Imps could give them an advantage heading into the return leg.
With Sunderland fans set to return to the Stadium of Light on May 22nd, they could potentially make a difference for Johnson's side who could benefit from the atmosphere created during this clash.
Having been linked with a permanent move for Sanderson earlier this year, the Black Cats could potentially boost their chances of signing the defender if they secure promotion to the Championship.
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