Steve Bruce feels Sunderland's next two games will decide whether his side finish in the top half of the table or will get sucked into a relegation battle.
The visits of Stoke, tonight, and Wigan, on Saturday, follow a poor run of form which has seen the Black Cats gain just three points from their last nine league games and slip to 13th in the table. Bruce said: "[These games] can define our season – if we can win the pair of them, then we can look to try to catch Everton or Birmingham or Fulham; if we don't, then we know what's in store.
"We have been here before – the club, over the last couple of years, has been in the bottom five, so we are not immune to it. We will have to get on with it and hope we get the result."
Currently one place above Bruce's side, Stoke have games in hand that could take them into the top half in the coming weeks. But manager Tony Pulis stressed the importance of luck, something he felt deserted his team during their barren run in December. "I'm hoping we work as hard as we have been, but get a little bit more luck than in the past couple of months," he said.Reuse content