Johnny Moore asks Richard Mennear from the Sunderland Echo to run the rule over the Black Cats
Q: A trip to Wembley and new owner were both secured in the same week last month – can Sunderland now add promotion to make it a memorable treble?
A: Hopefully so. The club are well positioned in the congested play-off picture and bounced back from dropping points at Crewe with another home win, this time over Swindon.
Even at Crewe, they were 2-0 down and facing defeat, but two stunning goals saw them pick up what could prove an important point.
Some of the football at times has been hard to watch, but there have definitely been improvements under Lee Johnson and the recent win record has been impressive.
Sunderland have momentum with them on and off the pitch and there is no reason why they shouldn’t now be targeting those automatic promotion places.
Q: Are supporters convinced the right owner is in place to take them to the next level or have past events left them sceptical?
A: Cautious optimism is the name of the game on Wearside. Sunderland fans have had to put up with a lot in recent years, with back-to-back relegations to the third tier and now this is the third time of asking in terms of promotion back up to the Championship.
Off the pitch, Stewart Donald’s ownership left a lot to be desired and fans were certainly rejoicing when the takeover deal was finally announced, even if it was a month or so later than originally hoped.
There have already been some significant improvements off the pitch to the infrastructure and with some key appointments made already since the new owner was confirmed.
There is a great deal to be optimistic about but the proof, as always, will be in the pudding. Exciting times ahead, though, we all hope.
Q: Charlie Wyke seems to be scoring goals for fun – has he always threatened to go on a prolific run?
A: I don’t think many would have predicted he would have been capable of such an impressive goalscoring run. It has been phenomenal and all credit to him. He recently scored five in a week and all of them were headers assisted by Aiden McGeady.
McGeady's return to the first team has been an important factor too in getting the quality service into Wyke.
Q: Who are the other outstanding performers likely to pose Pompey problems this evening?
A: It’s probably been a mixed bag elsewhere, with a number of injuries in recent weeks seeing key players missing a fair chunk of action, such as Bailey Wright, Jordan Willis and Denver Hume.
McGeady, as mentioned, has been superb since his return to the squad. Max Power has impressed at right-back and in midfield, while Grant Leadbitter has been excellent for much of the campaign.
He dislocated his shoulder at Crewe, but is determined to play through the pain barrier in the coming weeks with Sunderland chasing promotion. Charlie Wyke, though, will no doubt be picking up a number of awards.
Q: Do supporters still see automatic promotion as an achievable goal?
A: Yes, certainly. Many fans would probably have thought it would be play-offs at best just after Christmas, but the side has pulled together an impressive run of form in recent weeks, coupled with the Wembley final.
Clearly, League One is a hugely competitive division and the congested play-off picture tells you that much.
Sunderland, though, have a number of key players coming back from injury, especially in defence, who will prove key additions in terms of Johnson's options in the coming weeks of the campaign as we reach the ‘business end’.
There is no reason why Sunderland cannot still win automatic promotion. One thing is for sure – it is never dull.