John Coleman knows Sunderland will present a huge challenge when they visit the Wham Stadium tomorrow for the Sky Bet League One clash.
Lee Johnson’s side are in a good run of form with six wins in their last eight league games and they collected the Papa John’s Trophy at Wembley on Sunday, beating Tranmere 1-0.
Charlie Wyke has 21 goals this season, with Aiden McGeady on 11 assists, while they have the meanest defence in the league which has moved them up to fourth place.
The Reds are in 10th place and have lost three out of their last four league games with a host of injuries hampering their Play-Off charge.
“Since Lee Johnson has gone in, he didn’t have the greatest of starts but he has turned it around and stamped his mark on it, got them playing good football and scoring goals, winning games and keeping clean sheets,” said Coleman.
“We had that one game which was called off when it was 1-1 and I think we would have gone onto win that game. We have lost a couple of times in the cup and league against them and had a gallant 2-2 away from home and I thought we did enough to win the game but we haven’t quite got the other side of them yet, we haven’t beat them.
“Obviously we have the opportunity tomorrow and we have got try and take it.
“Aiden McGeady has been a thorn in our side, we will give them the respect they deserve and come up with ploys to try and negate them but we won’t become obsessed with them.”
Stanley still have a large number of players in the treatment room including goalkeeper Nathan Baxter, captain Seamus Conneely, striker Colby Bishop, defender Ross Sykes and winger Joe Pritchard.
“We have got to wait and see if Nathan needs an operation but if he does, he will be out for the season.
“We have got a more than adequate replacement in Toby Savin, he was outstanding in keeping Nathan out at the start of the season and I think people can quickly forget that. We are blessed three good keepers in Liam Isherwood as well.
“I am not expecting Colby or Seamus to be fit. Colby has more of a chance than Seamus.
“If you look at Seamus and the amount of games he has played over the years, he reminds me of Paul Mullin, as he gets older he gets more durable.
“I would be lying if I said we don’t miss Seamus as he has been our best player this season. If they stopped the season now and had a vote for the player of the season from the fans, players and management staff, he would win it hands down. We do miss him but we have to get on with it.
“They are all big misses for us but it gives others the opportunity to play and do well.
“We have lads who are keen to play and those are the ones we have to focus on. You don’t set out to get injured and we have to concentrate on the ones who are fit and let the medical staff concentrate on those who are injured.
“Sunderland have had a similar injury problem to us with their defence but we are trying to win the game, we know they have been on a great run of form but we had a spell when we were on a great run of form and there’s no reason why we can’t get back to that.
“You can easily moan and say he is out and so on and pick holes in your team but we have a good squad, we have got good players, and I have got faith in every single one of them.
“We have seen the way they played in the second half on Saturday and we will keep working hard, they were bubbly and bright in training yesterday, we carried that on into today and we go into the game tomorrow fully expecting to win and trying to win.
“We know how difficult it is to win any game in Leasgue One at the moment and teams are beating each other but every time you play it’s a chance to win.”
He admits his team are stuttering at the moment with three wins in the last 12 games and lost out to a 92 minute winner at MK Dons at the weekend.
“We weren’t good in the first 20 minutes at MK Dons and they were good. After we made the tactical change, we grew into the game and made lots of chances but we didn’t turn opportunities into clear cut chances and didn’t work their goalkeeper anywhere near enough and that was a problem.
“We could play that game another five times and probably win four.
"But you can’t keep moaning about your luck you have got to go and do something about it and that’s what we have to try and do.
“We are not only team stuttering at the moment, most teams in the league are doing it. Any team which puts a run of three or four wins together gets a good chance of cementing themselves in the Play-Offs and we are no different than that.
“Jimmy (Bell, assistant manager) made a good point. If you had woken up from hibernation for six months and seen where Accrington were in the league you would be jumping through hoops but it’s the perception of how you get there.
“It’s because we have slipped into that position rather than grown into it. Gillingham are probably cock-a-hoop now because they are where they are but they are on the same points as us. It’s like when you are winning 3-0 and you draw 3-3. The team who was losing is delighted and the team who was winning is devastated so we have to remember the positions we are in.”
The full pre-match interview video with John Coleman is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!