With most League One teams having played 38 out of their 46 league games so far this term, we're very much edging into the business end of the season, and the race for the top two remains tight.
Sunderland currently sit third in the standings, though they have a game in hand on the other three, with Luton Town top on 80 points, Barnsley second on 75, the Black Cats on 73 and fourth-placed Portsmouth on 71.
League One is not pausing for the international break, but Jack Ross's side will not be in action this weekend due to call-ups, and the following week they will be contesting the final of the Checkatrade Trophy against fellow promotion chasers Portsmouth at Wembley.
What then follows is a frantic end to the season as the Black Cats play their final nine matches in the space of just 32 days, with three games in hand on the majority of their promotion rivals once they return to league action.
With a period of 'calm before the storm', Ross told the Northern Echo that his side will play a friendly for the sake of the players' match fitness before issuing an update on trio Chris Maguire, Duncan Watmore and Bryan Oviedo.
“Chris is still working his way back, and Duncan is out for the season,” said Ross. “To be fair, Bryan is the one who’s closest, he’s just lacking match fitness but hopefully we’ll address that this week.”