Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Black Cats' Focus Firmly on Wembley Glory, Says Keeper; MCLAUGHLIN WANTS TO MAKE FINAL TRIP COUNT THIS TIME

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Black Cats' Focus Firmly on Wembley Glory, Says Keeper; MCLAUGHLIN WANTS TO MAKE FINAL TRIP COUNT THIS TIME

Article excerpt

Byline: STUART RAYNER Football writer stuart.rayner@reachplc.com @sturayner

Jack Ross makes a quick return visit to Wembley on Sunday JON McLaughlin says Sunderland have got the stars out of their eyes - now they are really focused on making their second trip to Wembley count. McLaughlin knows if the Black Cats do not overcome Charlton Athletic in Sunday's League One play-off final, it will be seen as a failure.

They have played under the arch once already this season, losing the Football League Trophy final on penalties. Now they have a chance to make amends and if they do, the prize on offer is much bigger.

It is familiar ground for goalkeeper McLaughlin, who was part of the Bradford City side hammered by Swansea City in the 2013 League Cup final, only to win the League Two playoff final at the end of the season. "We've gone to Wembley and had a taste of that, we know what it's all about, and hopefully we can use that experience as well," says McLaughlin, the only member of Sunderland's squad to have won the Football League play-offs.

"It was the same with Bradford, we lost the League Cup final but went on to win the play-offs. We'd had our Wembley experience, got all the stars in your eyes stuff out the way, and really focused."

It is only eight weeks since the Black Cats drew 2-2 with Portsmouth in front of Wembley's biggest crowd of the season, then lost the penalty shoot-out.

Lee Bowyer's Charlton finished higher in the final league table, but McLaughlin is taking encouragement from their head-to-head record. Sunderland beat the Addicks 2-1 on the opening day of the season, and drew at The Valley in January.

"It's going to be tough again, they're a very good team," he commented.

"They've been tough games when we've played them. It'll be tough but we've got enough in the locker to achieve what we want to achieve, which is promotion. …

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