Saturday’s League One contest at the Stadium of Light is one that both competing teams are desperate to win.
Pompey know that victory in each of their final three fixtures – with home games against Peterborough and Accrington to come – would secure automatic promotion.
There is no such guarantee for Sunderland, although it would certainly provide a big boost to their chances.
Kenny Jackett understands why this Wearside meeting is so eagerly-anticipated and does not want to try to play it down.
The Blues boss said: “The next game is always the most important one and with the run we’re on, they are becoming bigger.
“But this one obviously takes on huge significance because of the position both sides find themselves in the table.
"There are big stakes and the standard at the top of the division has been high, but our recent form has given us a chance."
“You have to get the detail right and by this stage of the season, teams should know everything about each other.
“We’ve met in the league once this season and also, of course, in a cup competition, so I’m expecting a tight game.
“You have to work very hard to beat any side and we’ll need to be at our best to get a positive result in the north-east.
“There are big stakes and the standard at the top of the division has been high, but our recent form has given us a chance.
“So we have to continue that if we can by trying to beat one of our direct rivals. It’s something I’m looking forward to.
“We have a good points total so far and the opportunity is certainly there for us – we want to maximise that.
“The players have given everything they’ve got whenever they’ve entered the pitch this season and I don’t expect it will be any different on Saturday.”
Jackett has plenty of tools at his disposal as Pompey go in search of an eighth successive league victory.
He said: “We have everyone fit and available, barring Omar Bogle and Jack Whatmough, which is good news.
“It’s a deep squad to choose from – which does differ from last season – and the competition for places is high.”