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The 5 key questions facing Sunderland ahead of this afternoon’s crucial game down at the bottom

Ahead of what is undoubtedly the biggest game of the season we take a look at the five key questions facing Chris Coleman and his men.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Can we put back-to-back wins together?

To fans of any club other than Sunderland reading this you must be wondering why something as simple as putting back-to-back wins together is even a question worth posing, but the fact is that one of our biggest problems this season has been out inability to follow up a good performance with another one.

We haven’t won two games in a row in the league since November 2016 - a simply staggering statistic. That MUST change today, or I fear it’ll be curtains for Sunderland as a Championship club.

I fully believe we can do it. Friday’s win has given all of us belief and the players should be confident that they’re capable of building upon their good performance last time out.

Sheffield Wednesday are all but safe from the drop now, and hopefully a combination of them taking their foot of the gas and us realising the magnitude of what a win could do for our fortunes will be enough to see us over the line.

Derby County v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Will we go with an unchanged team?

It would seem sensible to just pick the same side as the one that won on Friday but it’s asking a lot of the players to be able to give another ninety minutes like their last one, and with more options available, Chris Coleman will be likely tempted to make a few changes to his team.

Joel Asoro, Ovie Ejaria and Adam Matthews could all be recalled in a bid to go with a more energetic lineup, and the Sunderland manager has some tough decisions to make, particularly since nobody really had a bad game on Friday night.

We all know Coleman prefers a five man defence but it’s just not worked and the players looked far more comfortable against Derby. Hopefully we don’t move away from the system that served us to well down at Pride Park, because for the first time in ages we looked good going forward and solid defensively.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Will jaded fans answer Coleman’s call and turn up?

On Saturday Chris Coleman addressed the Sunderland fans personally with an open letter on the club website, pleading with them to set everything aside in order to help fill the stadium and support the team today.

It’ll be interesting to see if a combination of Friday’s win, Coleman’s plea and the bank holiday break significantly boosts the crowd or not.

I hope it does, because it’s been hard attending games this season - depressing in fact, looking around and remember just how vibrant the SoL was when we stayed up under Sam Allardyce two years ago.

I don’t blame people for staying away and sometimes I’ve stood there and wondered why I even bother, but today has to be different. We all love this football club deeply and I just hope that people can get themselves along today to cheer the lads on.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Can Ashley Fletcher build on his performance?

The manager said it himself after the game on Friday - finally we got to see a glimpse of the Ashley Fletcher we thought that we were getting when we signed him in January!

Granted, he still ballsed up two absolute sitters, but it was clear to see that once he got his goal he instantly grew in confidence - and he’ll be chomping at the bit to get back out there today and score again.

He needs to keep scoring goals and playing in the manner that he did at Derby if he’s going to rebuild his reputation in this run towards the end of the season, but it was a good start.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Will John O’Shea continue to make me look silly?

Sometimes you just need to hold your hands up and admit that John O’Shea had a good game, and that he did on Friday at Pride Park.

I hope he can continue to play at that level for the run towards the end of the season - that way he can ride off into the sunset and perhaps people like me might view him slightly differently upon his eventual departure.