SUNDERLAND’S play-off fate will be determined at Morecambe on Saturday, with Bailey Wright confident he and his team-mates are more than capable of handling the pressure of a final-day decider.

The Black Cats head to Morecambe’s Mazuma Stadium on Saturday lunchtime sitting in fifth position in the League One table, one point clear of Plymouth Argyle and Wycombe Wanderers, the two teams immediately below them.

As a result, they know that if they win their final fixture, they are guaranteed a top-six finish and a place in the play-offs. Drawn or lose, however, and they could be overtaken by both Plymouth and Wycombe, dropping them out of the top six.

The stakes could hardly be higher, with the tension ratcheted up even more because of the importance of the game to Morecambe as well as the Black Cats. The Shrimps start the final day two points clear of the relegation zone, so need to win themselves to guarantee another season in League One.

It promises to be a rollercoaster afternoon, but having put together a 12-game unbeaten run to haul themselves to within touching distance of a play-off place, Wright is confident Sunderland’s squad possess the mental fortitude needed to complete the job.

“Pressure is pressure, and you don’t come to a club like Sunderland to have an easy ride,” said Wright, who has started all of the Black Cats’ matches under Alex Neil. “You want to be part of something great and, as a group, have an opportunity to go and do that.

“We have to win on Saturday to make sure things are sealed. Morecambe are going to give us a tough game again, and their team are also fighting.

“This is what you play football for - as a kid, you want to be in games that matter, you want to make history and be part of success. All of that comes with pressure, and that’s why we love the game and play the game. As a group, we should thrive on those situations, and I think we will.”

Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Rotherham took Sunderland to the 81-point mark, and in every season in the last decade, the club’s current points tally would have comfortably guaranteed a place in the play-offs.

The current campaign has been remarkable, with seven teams sitting on at least 80 points heading into the final weekend, and a host of other well-fancied sides, such as Oxford United, Portsmouth, Ipswich Town and Charlton Athletic, not even involved in the play-off mix.

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it, but this is why we love football,” said Wright. “The standard has been really good in the division this year, super competitive. There’s some big hitters in the division that aren’t even going to make the play-offs.

“We knew at the start of the year the division was probably going to be the toughest it’s been. But great, bring on the challenge because the bigger the challenge, the bigger the reward. We certainly want it and we’ve put ourselves in a position where we can go on and make sure it happens.”

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With Saturday’s starting line-up expected to feature a number of youngsters, the likes of Wright and skipper Corry Evans are likely to be key when it comes to setting the tone of Sunderland’s performance.

Wright found himself shuffled to the fringes under Lee Johnson in the first half of the season, but the Australian has been a pivotal performer under Neil, with his leadership qualities clearly impressing his head coach.

“I’ve always taken responsibility, from when I was younger, to get the best out of myself and everyone around me,” said the 29-year-old. “I always try to do that in everything I do, whether that’s how I train or how I apply myself (in matches).

“I know there’s times in the season where I need my mate to get me out of the crap, like on Tuesday, and I had my mate there to help me. It’s building those relationships, making sure you’re there when younger lads need a bit of advice. But it goes both ways. We all need each other, and there’s a lot of support in the group, which is great.”

Having signed a two-year deal when he joined Sunderland from Bristol City, Wright is due to become a free agent at the end of the season.

He was heavily linked with a possible return to Australia last summer, but insists he has shelved any thoughts of what might happen in the future until the current campaign has reached its end.

“Those conversations (about contracts) have never happened,” he said. “They’ve been on the back burner for a while. The focus really has been on each game, winning the next game, and if you do that, things take care of themselves.

“That’s my focus, doing my best for this club. Whenever it is, I’m always ready to give 100 per cent of myself, and whatever happens after that will happen, and we’ll deal with it then.”