Jack Ross is delighted Sunderland are going into the international break on the back of a victory after they came from behind to beat relegation-threatened Walsall.
Goals from Lee Cattermole and Will Grigg secured a 2-1 home victory which saw the Black Cats close to within two points of second-placed Barnsley, who have played a game more.
Ross’ side are not back in League One action until the trip to Accrington on April 2 because of international call-ups and the final of the Checkatrade Trophy at Wembley.
Ross, whose substitute Charlie Wyke laid on the winner for Grigg, said: “ I’m delighted. It’s a big win for us in difficult conditions again today, like Tuesday was at Barnsley. We had to find a way to win.
“I’m disappointed the way we started and with some of the defending, (but) satisfied with the number of opportunities and to win from a losing position.
“The important thing is we won because we don’t play for a few weeks. It’s a happy changing room because we want to win that.
“We had been knocking on the door for a period at that time. It was fair when we went in level at half-time and I just wanted them to keep going.
“It is very easy to be critical as a manager, but overall to see out the game and get three points it is good.
“For every sub you get right you will get one wrong, some are enforced. I think Charlie has had a difficult period of late this season, for a number of reasons. I am pleased for him he has had a big part in the goal that won it for us today.
“This weekend shows, looking back at Tuesday, the only time you can really get caught up in the (league) positions is with two or three games to go. There are so many points still to play for and this weekend shows that.”
Walsall manager Dean Keates, whose side had taken the lead through Josh Gordon, is determined to lift his team out of the bottom four.
Keates said: “It’s tight, it’s very tight. We are three points off 12th place. But it’s disappointing. We don’t want to be in there. But there are going to be a lot of twists and turns over the next eight games.
“We are confident in ourselves, we have the belief that we will get ourselves out of it. It was relief for them at the final whistle. We scored a really good goal, we looked bright and countered well in the first half.
“We looked sharp. They blocked a couple of our shots. We are disappointed. We have come to Sunderland, away from home and we have taken the game to them.
“We are a little bit more disappointed with the second half. We got into some good areas but the final ball into the box wasn’t good enough.
“We gambled in the last 10 minutes. We had an attack, we tried to put their backs to the walls, but the final ball into the box wasn’t good enough. We didn’t really create an opportunity for the forward players to score a goal.”