League One race for promotion: Do Sunderland have what it takes?

League One has been attracting a lot of attention in recent weeks, with 12 teams all involved in relegation survival.

With the international break upon us, it appears time to focus on the top of League One and those clubs doing all they can for automatic promotion to the Championship.

In a race that will only see two teams secure automatic promotion to the Championship, we take a look at each of the four teams at the top of the league and assess their chances of securing promotion below:

Luton Town (1st – 83 points – 39 League games)

It has been an incredible season for Mick Harford’s side so far in the season since gaining promotion from League Two. The Hatters have netted an incredible 72 goals and play some excellent football.

Despite losing Nathan Jones to Stoke City midway through the season, Harford has taken the club by surprise and kept them well in the promotion race.

After 39 fixtures so far this season, the Hatters boast of a five-point lead over second-placed Barnsley. Back-to-back promotions and a return to the Championship is almost a certainty for Luton.

With Wimbledon and Oxford United among teams to play in their next upcoming seven fixtures, promotion should be secured at the end of the season.

Barnsley (2nd – 78 points – 39 League games)

Daniel Stendel’s side are looking to secure a promotion to the Championship at the first attempt, and they have been playing brilliant attacking football this season.

Barnsley also boast the best defensive record in the league this season, with just 28 goals conceded thus far.

This record has put them into the top two with 78 points accrued from 39 outings, but with two games in hand for Sunderland, a place inside the top two is far from guaranteed.

Portsmouth (3rd – 74 points – 39 League games)

A run of games against likes of Coventry, Sunderland and Peterborough in a matter of weeks, it will take very strong performances for Portsmouth to make it into the top two.

With no doubts, settling for a play-off place would be acceptable for Kenny Jackett’s men, who have the second highest number of goals scored (68 goals) in the league this season.

Sunderland (4th – 73 points – 37 League games)

As one can see from the table, Sunderland, who appear to be the big dogs of league this season, have not shown enough convincing performances.

Losing many of their stars to the international break saw them with two fixtures in hand, and that means they have many matches piled up this month in the race to secure a straight promotion to the Championship, including a final against Portsmouth for the Football League trophy.

Whilst a top two finish might seem hard to come by for the Black Cats, a place inside the play-offs is a certainty.

The Wearside outfit will still believe that they can crack the top two, however.

EFL League One Top-Six

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