Just two weeks ago it looked like Sunderland would coast into the Championship at a canter.
However, football can change so quickly. That’s something Lee Johnson and his Mackems side have found out the hard way in the last fortnight.
They have gone from favourites for automatic promotion after a run of 14 unbeaten matches to a team now lacking all sorts of fluency. The Black Cats haven’t won in five straight games and have suffered some meaty blows against fellow promotion hopefuls Charlton, Peterborough, Blackpool and Hull City.
What’s made their situation even worse is Aiden McGeady’s injury situation. He played no part against Hull due to severe bruising on his foot but unfortunately he could also miss the game with Accrington Stanley on Saturday afternoon.
The Irishman is a doubt for the clash with Johnson providing an update on his fitness, telling Chronicle Live: “I would put him at 50-50. He is tough and he wants to play, but his foot is still very bruised even though it is only a superficial injury, if you like – it’s nothing bone or ligament related.
“If he can handle the pain and hopefully smash one into the top corner then he will be able to play, it’s as simple as that.”
If the forward is missing again, then it will be a huge blow to Sunderland’s promotion aspirations. The Black Cats need to get back on track as soon as possible, and it seems unlikely that they’ll be able to achieve that with McGeady sat on the sidelines.
Since being brought back into the team in December when Johnson was hired, he has been game-changing for their attack. The 35-year-old has registered 13 assists in just 26 outings this term, a tally that no one in the third tier can better.
Influential to the form of Charlie Wyke as well, the Mackems will need McGeady back in the team if their top scorer is to fire again. Wyke has only found the net once in his last eight outings, a tally which could be improved if the veteran Irishman returns to the fold this weekend.
Johnson will be sweating over the winger’s fitness; the manager needs him to return quickly.