Sunderland manager Jack Ross has urged his players not to feel sorry for themselves after they missed out on securing automatic promotion from League One.
The Black Cats will be involved in the play-offs after a run of just one win in their last seven matches ensured they finished fifth in the table while Luton Town and Barnsley have already confirmed their places in the Championship next season.
Sunderland, who have suffered back-to-back relegations in the last two seasons, face Portsmouth in the first leg of their play-off semi-final on Saturday.
Ross’ side were beaten by Pompey at Wembley in the EFL Trophy final at the end of March while the sides shared two goals at the Stadium of Light just a fortnight ago.
Former Alloa Athletic and St Mirren manager Ross said: “Do you sit down and feel sorry for yourself, or do you embrace the next two or three games and get excited by them?
“They’re big games to be involved in and there’s a big prize at stake which is only three games away.
We’ve had the chance to regroup and stress that it comes down to a two- or three-game season now.”
Sunderland are available at 2.38 to win Saturday’s first leg while they can be backed at 3.25 to be promoted from League One this season.
The second leg is scheduled to take place at Fratton Park on Thursday 16 May. In the other semi-final Doncaster Rovers take on Charlton Athletic.