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Roker Roundtable: Would you rather be in Barnsley’s position or Sunderland’s with games in hand?

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Do you see the two games in hand that Sunderland have in League One as an advantage, or would you rather be in Barnsley’s position with points on the board?

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Q: It’s hard to distract ourselves from the excitement of the cup final, but elsewhere today results for the teams around us challenging for promotion - Barnsley in particular - keep up the pace. Do you see the two games in hand as an advantage, or would you rather be in Barnsley’s position with points on the board?

Craig Davies says...

Being a perennial bag of nerves at this end of the season, I can’t be as devil-may-care or as outrageously hopeful as the brave optimists of our fine and faithful ranks.

In my head at least, points on the board are always more valuable than potential points we haven’t earned yet. Points accumulated and accounted for can provide a sense of confident security, knowing all the pressure is on the chasing pack.

One or two slip ups from the hunters and suddenly the points that were never on the board are never likely to be.

As the season’s end curves closer around the tracks like a speeding locomotive, any lack of points and hefty distance between us and our rivals can increase the pressure, causing desperation and panic to creep their ugly heads into an otherwise very positive season as we scramble to guarantee automatic promotion.

Points on the board are there. They’re tangible and barring financial meltdown, they’re irremovable. They provide insurance, peace of mind and a platform to build on. As a simple point of preference, I’d take authentic, definite and verifiable points earned and in the bank, over points we possibly may earn in the future.

That said, naturally I hope we gain automatic promotion and would absolutely love it if we won every game from now till the end of the season, smashing Barnsley’s dreams to pieces.

With a Wembley win, then under our belts to boot, we can agree, it may not have been the season many of us would have chosen but was the season that we perhaps all needed.

Sunderland v Walsall - Sky Bet League One Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images

James Smith says...

I much prefer being the hunters rather than the hunted.

With our games in hand it all comes down to a single duty - match Barnsley. As long as we match their results every step of the way, we’re golden. They’re the ones that have to keep looking over their shoulder, mulling over the false security of their position as they wait for us to catch up. All we have to do is keeping doing our thing, keep building the momentum and not looking at anyone else.

If we were any other team than Sunderland there would be nowhere near as much pressure as there is on us, but we are who we are and there is pressure. To be at the top and keeping those high standards is what makes the teams up there better than the others. If these players can’t deal with that type of pressure than we can never hope to build a successful team that can get us back where we belong.

Honestly, I think most of this pressure has all come from outside - I think everyone at the club understands where we are and if you’d have guaranteed playoffs to me at the start of the season I would have bit your hand off, and I’m sure many others would have as well.

So let’s enjoy the cup final then get back to the league and keep Barnsley on their toes. If we do slip up then we’ll just smash the playoffs. Easy.

Bristol Rovers v Sunderland - Checkatrade Trophy Semi Final Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Damian Brown says...

I’m a big fan of having games in hand.

It feels like having an opportunity to react to the form and tactics of our opponents; as if we can take a breath and gather the momentum to push against them.

Of course it would be lovely to simply have the points on the board but in the absence of that achievement we maintain hope and a positive attitude could be the only difference between automatic promotion and the play-offs.

For as long as we have those games in hand we hold hope there also.