Phil Parkinson has admitted that we need back-to-back away wins against Bristol Rovers and Blackpool this week before we go into a 21-day self-enforced break. Parkinson said: “We have had Rovers watched, we will have a look at how they did against Southend. We will go down there and aim to get the three points. We will dust ourselves down, go again. It is always good to have a game straight away after being hurt by how a game finished like we were on Saturday. We know we have two big games now on our travels before we have a break. I am confident we can come out of those in good fashion. We know Rotherham slipped up but then we drew, so we have missed out in that sense on closing the gap further. But we have to make sure we are ready and we make sure that our draw with Gillingham is actually a good thing. We have to iron out the things we weren’t happy with but concentrate on the good elements of our play and take those into Tuesday.”

Parkinson also believes that it’s time for his players to stand up and be counted. He said: “The only pressure I ever put on myself or on the team is to get a result or it can create tension. If we deal with them like we dealt with Gillingham for the main part then we are in with a great chance. For us we did half of it on Saturday but we didn’t do some of the physical bits where it mattered in and around the box.”

Meanwhile, Bristol Rovers manager Ben Garner plans to frustrate us with spoiling tactics and since his side have only managed one win in the last 18 games, it seems like his only tactic. "You couldn’t ask for a better game than Sunderland at home," he said. "Huge, huge football club, massive following that will come down tomorrow night, it’s under lights on a Tuesday night at the Mem. There’s no better game and we need to be right up for it and show them what we’re all about and come out fighting tomorrow night. I’m desperate to win. I want to win every game. This run of results has been very frustrating and we need to put that right quickly. I think the focus at the moment is just the next game. It’s Tuesday night, Sunderland at home, that’s the focus. They’re a good side. They’ve got a good squad with strength in depth. I thought we did really well for an hour up there defensively in terms of our organisation, structure and work ethic. I think we frustrated them up there, and I think teams have done that since as well. We need to build on what we did in the away game. We know we can frustrate what they do, we know we’ve got opportunities to hurt them in certain areas. But it’s words, we need actions now. Everyone has tough times, there’s no hiding place. I’m not making excuses here, I’m not running away from this, the blame is solely on me, but we need to put it right. I haven’t travelled home to see my family, I’ve stayed down and I’ve watched the last three Sunderland games yesterday to make sure for the meeting today they will be shown all the information."