Sunderland news: Sky Sports pundit makes intriguing play-off claim involving Black Cats

David Prutton makes play-off claim involving Sunderland ahead of Lincoln showdown

After missing out on the chance of securing automatic promotion to the Championship during the regular season, Sunderland will be hoping to navigate their way through the play-offs this month.

Set to face Lincoln City on 19th May at Sincil Bank, the Black Cats know that a positive result in this clash will put them in good stead for the return fixture.

Sunderland's away record in League One this season has been relatively impressive as they have won 11 games on their travels and have only lost on three occasions.

The Black Cats may also be boosted by the fact that Lincoln have only won nine games at home in the third-tier and have yet to defeat Lee Johnson's side during the current campaign.

However, when you consider that Lincoln finished level on points with Sunderland in the League One standings, it could turn out to be an enthralling encounter.

Speaking on the latest episode of the Sky Sports EFL Podcast ahead of this fixture, pundit David Prutton has insisted that whilst on paper this clash would be classed as a mismatch in terms of the size of the two clubs, the Imps could benefit from the fact that all the pressure will be on the Black Cats to seal victory.

The 39-year-old said: "The key [in this tie] is handling the pressure.

"If you looked at purely two footballing names and clubs and looked at this fixture, you would class it as a mismatch wouldn't you really with regards to the impetus and financial backing that we now see with Sunderland and given what Lincoln have done.

"I remember speaking to Michael Appleton earlier on in the year and he was talking about his side, who were then in and around the automatic places and he was still very much towing the line with regards to a top-half finish would be great for the club and they've done that and then some haven't they."

Prutton later added: "They [Lincoln] could use that pressure [on Johnson's side] to their advantage as Sunderland are expected to get through this."

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Although Sunderland did crumble under the weight of expectation earlier this season when they found themselves in a great position to secure a top-two finish in League One, they will be hoping to put that to the back of their minds later this month.

Whereas the Black Cats know that Lincoln have a host of dangerous players at their disposal who could cause real issues in this tie, they may be able to book a place at Wembley Stadium if the likes of Charlie Wyke and Aiden McGeady are able to deliver the goods.

Whilst Wyke has managed to find the back of the net on 29 occasions in all competitions, McGeady's creativity has resulted in him providing 18 direct goal contributions in the third-tier.

By producing a promising display in the first-leg of this play-off semi-final, Sunderland could use the momentum gained from this result to eliminate Lincoln from the competition on May 22nd.

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