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Sunderland v Watford : Sky Bet Championship

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Roker Roundtable: Assessing the Championship playoff picture with one week remaining!

Ahead of Sunderland’s final game against Preston, we asked our writers for their thoughts on the race for the top six, and how they think it might unfold over the next seven days

Photo by Kassey Taylor/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Gav says…

If you’d told me a year ago that we’d still be in with a shot at promotion going into the final game of the season, I’d have picked you up by the scruff of the neck and directed you to the nearest head trauma clinic to check if everything was alright.

Whether we win or lose next Monday, there can be no denying how effortlessly this team has taken to life in the Championship.

We’re phased by nothing and I expect the trip to Preston to be no different.

We’ll play our own game, we’ll graft hard and give our best effort, and if our best isn’t good enough, nobody can seriously be too disappointed with how things have gone.

Given Preston have nothing left to play for, and the fact it’s an away game, I fancy us to win. We’ve got the quality to pick any team apart, and hopefully we’ll catch them with one eye on their holidays.

Will it be enough? So many results have gone our way in the last few weeks, so I wouldn’t be shocked. Millwall looked slack against Blackpool on Friday and they just don’t convince me, and Blackburn and West Brom aren’t great, either.

I’ll just keep crossing my fingers and toes and hope that we somehow find our way into sixth place come the close of play on Monday.

Sunderland v Watford - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

I’m a simple man and the facts are clear: we have to win away at Preston and that’s all we can control.

Yes, there are games before that and they feature Blackburn, Luton and Middlesbrough.

If Blackburn manage to win at home to Luton, we’ll be relying on one other team slipping up a week on Monday in order for us to make the playoffs.

Maybe Blackburn can take a hiding and lose confidence before the weekend. Perhaps Luton will relax and not try as much given they are already guaranteed playoff football, and maybe Middlesbrough can spank Rotherham and build up some momentum so they can do us a favour and smash Coventry on the final day.

The permutations are multiple and a bit mind boggling, to be honest, but none of that matters.

We’ve got one game left and we simply must win it. Focus on that and come what may, we’ve had a cracking season and have a fantastic platform to build from in the summer.

This is one of my favourite periods of being a Sunderland fan during the last forty years or so, and it’s only just started.

This is such a fantastic time to be a Mackem and I already can’t wait for next season, no matter what happens in the next week or so.

Let’s do this!

Phil West says…

It’s going to be tight, it’s going to be nervy, and it’s going to be a mathematician’s dream as we try and work out the permutations and possible outcomes of what’s shaping up to be an absolutely thrilling end to the season.

First and foremost, even if we fall short in our quest for the top six, nobody will convince me this season hasn’t been a success.

For a young and inexperienced team to lift this club to the brink of the playoffs as a newly-promoted side represents an outstanding achievement, made even more impressive when you consider the injuries we’ve been dealing with for what feels like forever.

As for the league table, I can see us ending the season just outside the top six by the narrowest of margins, but I would be elated to be wrong on that and for us to keep the bandwagon rolling.

I do think we’ll go to Preston and eke out a result in order to finish the campaign on a high, but I’ve also got a feeling that results elsewhere could go against us and that we’ll fall just short. On the other hand, this league has thrown surprises up ever since the campaign began, so I’m absolutely not writing our hopes off!

Let’s uphold our end of the bargain and see what happens elsewhere.

Sunderland v Watford - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


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