Phil Parkinson believes his players head into Saturday’s Sky Bet League One encounter against Bristol Rovers in the best possible frame of mind.
Sunderland have lost just one of their last 13 matches, a run which has seen them take seven clean sheets in their last eight games – a record bettered by no other side in the top four tiers of English football.
The Black Cats have also got themselves to within three points of Rotherham United at the summit following their latest run of three successive victories, but Parkinson knows now isn’t the time for complacency.
Drawing on previous experience of the business stage of the season, the Sunderland boss has called for his players to maintain the high standards they’ve set in recent times and build on the positivity that’s flowing around the city.
“There can be no drop in standards in training or on a matchday,” he said. “Everyone in and around the top six are on good runs, but we have got to concentrate on ourselves.
“We had a good week last week and we have trained well so far and now we have got to take that into Saturday’s game.
“We have got to believe we can get there. Our recent run suggests we can.”
He continued: “It is now up to us to be as good as anybody else in the pack between now and the end of the season. We have to maintain our standards – that has to be the aim.
“The supporters have responded to the effort they have seen on the pitch.
“When the supporters see that there are a group of players who are honest and committed, they will stay with us.
“There is nothing better for a player than to look forward to playing at home.
“We have now got a squad which is driving towards that one goal.”