WITH Sunderland’s season hitting a bump in the road, fans out there may well be thinking that the same script is set to be written again.

The Black Cats got off to a good start before their season derailed with a number of off colour performances and results to match.

For Alex Pritchard, sticking to that script can't happen this season as the club go in search of a League One promotion spot.

Less than a month ago, Lee Johnson’s side were a point behind league leaders Plymouth Argyle with two games in hand following a resounding 4-0 win over Crewe Alexandra. Three straight league defeats since to Charlton Athletic, Rotherham United and Sheffield Wednesday have seen them drop out of the play-offs to seventh and further behind the pace of the division’s frontrunners, albeit with games in hand to play.

The 28-year-old is well seasoned in the EFL and has been a part of promotion campaigns in the past. With fans getting restless that they may well be watching another failed season unfold before them, the attacking midfielder is determined to give them more to cling onto.

“Look we need to get a win, we need to get a win from somewhere and hopefully it’s against Ipswich in the league” Pritchard said.

“We need to get back to winning ways and give something for the fans to cheer about and get us back in a good environment again.

“Obviously it’s a difficult moment and we all know it but you can’t just be negative and need to be positive.

“We are a good team and have some fantastic players in that dressing room, we know that but we need to show it. Ipswich at home is massive for us.

“We just have to stand up and be counted for really to a man.

“For them to come here we have to make this a fortress again, it’s as simple as that and with the crowd behind us we can.”

While there has been some moments to savour for Sunderland this season as a whole, it’s likely been an up and down spell for Pritchard.

He joined the club in the summer as a free agent following his release from Championship side Huddersfield Town where he was earmarked as a player with the potential of spearheading a potential promotion push. But almost immediately, Pritchard caught Covid and was forced to isolate meaning he was playing catch up with his fitness.

It’s seemed to be the case ever since. Pritchard has been in and out of the side with a series of injury troubles, the latest being a neck problem.

Following 90 minutes in last week’s Papa John’s Trophy tie with Bradford City, Pritchard got 90 minutes under his belt as he worked his way back in the fold.

While it’s been a struggle in the league in recent weeks, Pritchard admits that it’s not been as bad as it looks on paper. Sandwiched in between league defeats was the Black Cats penalty shootout win over Queens Park Rangers which sealed a safe passage into the last eight of the Carabao Cup. They are now the only EFL side left in the competition.

“It’s not all doom and gloom” added Pritchard.

“If you think back, we were playing really good football, we were scoring goals, we weren’t conceding goals.

“We went and beat QPR, which was a great performance by the way, I think we should have probably won the game before full-time. I know they had the offside that probably should have counted.

“We have a game at Arsenal to look forward to but I think the main focus is the league and I think everyone knows that.

“We just can’t wait for the Ipswich game at home, it will be a full crowd hopefully and we can give it a right go.”

Sunderland host Ipswich Town at the Stadium of Light this weekend where they’ve lost just one game at home this season.

Striker and top scorer Ross Stewart will be monitored ahead of the game as he manages a shoulder injury.

Manager Lee Johnson admitted that he will receive injections to lighten the load on his firing frontman, who has got 10 goals to his name this season.