Sunderland are preparing for one of their games in hand as they return to league action with a trip to Accrington Stanley tonight.
In the League One clash between Accrington and Sunderland, both teams have plenty to play for at opposite ends of the table.
And this game means even more to young midfielder Dan Barlaser, who is on loan at Accrington from Newcastle United.
Not only can he aid Accrington’s survival bid, he can also help to derail the automatic promotion hopes of Sunderland, who are Newcastle’s bitter rivals.
Accrington have eight games left to play, including tonight, and sit in 18th place – just two points clear of the relegation zone.
They need to make this game in hand count if they are to retain their League One status for another season.
Barlaser has been a key player for John Coleman’s men this season, scoring three goals and providing two assists from midfield in his 40 outings for the League One side.
The 22-year-old was dropped to the bench at the weekend but will be hoping to return to the starting line-up and lock horns with Sunderland.
If Barlaser can produce an impressive performance to stop Sunderland catching up with second-placed Barnsley, then he would endear himself to fans of his parent club.