Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray is keen not to underestimate Luton as the two teams prepare to meet in the Championship play-off semi-final.
Helped by Blackburn’s victory against Millwall, the Black Cats sneaked into sixth place in the table while the Hatters finished third.
Both sides have recent play-off experience, with Sunderland promoted into the second tier with a win against Wycombe in last year’s League One play-offs.
However, Luton missed out on the chance to earn Premier League promotion after being beaten in last season’s semi-finals by Huddersfield, but Mowbray insisted the Hatters will be aiming to “put that right”.
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He said: “(Luton) had (a play-off run) last year as well, it’s sometimes easy to have a narrative of ‘little Luton’ but they were in the play-offs last year as well so they’ll have the experience of the play-offs.
“They’ll be disappointed they didn’t get through the play-offs last year but they’ll be trying to put that right this year.
“These games are all big games and the mentality of our group has been – because of the injuries, because of the adversity – to express ourselves, play as we play, do what we’re good at and see where it takes us.
“I don’t see a reason to change that, this weekend, the game itself is a big game. The coverage, it’s the post-season, go and express yourself, go and show everybody who’s watching your individual talent, your collective talent and see if we can get a result against a team who’ve done exceptionally well.”
The first leg takes place in front of a sell-out crowd at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, but both clubs face a difficult test as their two meetings in the Championship this season have both ended in 1-1 draws.
The most recent clash came in March when Amad Diallo’s late penalty cancelled out Alfie Doughty’s second-half strike, and Mowbray knows how tough a team the Hatters are.
“As I said seven or eight weeks ago when we played them, you could feel they’re difficult to break down,” he said.
“They were a very strong, very robust, a very athletic team and at times leaving man-for-man at the back, pushing in and leading a high press.
“It takes you out of your rhythm really, so it’s going to be a difficult game and I think all of these games we shouldn’t look at 90 minutes on Saturday; even if we’re winning, losing or drawing there’s another 90 minutes.”
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