BAILEY WRIGHT insists Sunderland still have every chance of securing automatic promotion – despite Tuesday’s defeat at Wigan Athletic having taken their fate out of their own hands.

The Black Cats’ 2-1 loss at the DW Stadium means they are five points adrift of second-placed Peterborough United, who also have six games still to play, and eight points behind leaders Hull City, who have five games remaining.

While Sunderland travel to Hull’s KCOM Stadium next Tuesday, they are no longer guaranteed a top-two finish even if they win all of their remaining six matches.

A place in the play-offs now looks a more likely scenario that ending the season with automatic promotion, but while Hull and Peterborough are undoubtedly in the box seat, Wright is adamant it would be wrong to write off the Black Cats’ hopes of finishing in the top two.

“Externally, people will say what they say,” said the Sunderland centre-half. “If that’s what you believe, that it’s a two horse race with them (Hull and Peterborough), then that’s your opinion. I don't agree with that.

“I think we’ve still got a good position, there’s a few games of football left and we all know football, it’s full of twists and turns. We’ve got to enjoy it, embrace it, and we will.

“We’ve got ourselves in a good position, but we’ve got to be the ones to make it happen, and we know that. There are some good sides in this division - some good sides above us, some good sides below us - a lot can happen. So, let’s see what happens.”

To have any chance of forcing themselves into the top two over the next six games, Sunderland will have to improve markedly on the disappointing display that led to them throwing away a first-half lead to slip to a 2-1 defeat on Tuesday night.

Defensively, the Black Cats were twice found wanting from Wigan corners, while at the other end of the field, they failed to force Latics goalkeeper Jamie Jones into a single meaningful save in the final half-hour of the game.

“In a game of football, anything can happen,” said Wright. “Sometimes, you have to give the opposition credit. The result was fully deserved for Wigan, and that's where we have to look at ourselves, which we will do because we're an honest group, and show character to bounce back.

“Anyone we play, we look at that game and think we can beat them, regardless of who it is. That's because we back ourselves, our preparation, the quality we've got and our desire. We fell short, we know that, and sometimes you do. We have to recognise it, rebuild and go again.”

Wright’s return was one of the few positives to emerge from Tuesday’s trip across the Pennines, with the Australian stepping in to make his first appearance for two months as he replaced Conor McLaughlin, who was injured in the warm-up.

“I said that, when I was back fit, I would make sure I was fully fit,” said Wright. “The medical team and the fitness team have kept me fit so that I was ready to be back on the football pitch, and I could go on and play 90 minutes.

“Obviously, I wasn't meant to be starting, but my mentality for every game is to be ready because every game is full of curveballs and anything can change. I was ready, I feel fit and I'm ready to play my part.”