Sunderland showed their character and fight on Tuesday evening to recover from a sloppy start and earn a late draw against Fleetwood Town.

Max Power netted with the last kick off the game at the Stadium of Light to earn what could be a valuable point for their League One promotion challenge.

But, as the stakes rise for each game as the promotion race really hots up, seeing Sunderland start so poorly should be of concern.

It was a nervy opening 20 minutes for many Sunderland players, including usually reliable performers such as Jordan Willis and Lynden Gooch.

Rather than tired, there was certainly an element of nervousness about Sunderland's play as simple passes went astray, first touches were off and the tempo of play, as a result, was slower than usual.

Fleetwood's spoiling tactics hardly helped, but given their incredible form in 2020, Phil Parkinson will have to make sure his players are well-equipped to deal with such, because many of the final 11 opponents are likely to look to do the same.

Sunderland's anxiousness on Tuesday is a concern, particularly with the context of last season's implosion in mind.

First, Sunderland had automatic promotion in their own hands for much of the season, thanks to their many games in hand. However, as a relentless schedule owing to so many cup games earlier in the campaign caught up with them, they imploded towards the end of the regular season and had to settle for a place in the play-offs.

They showed their character and will in the two-legged semi-final over Portsmouth, but once again they folded when it mattered most, squandering an early lead in the play-off final to lose to Charlton at Wembley.

Should we be concerned that Sunderland can't hold their nerve when the stakes are so high?

A big part of recruitment at Sunderland in both the summer and January, even with different managers in charge at the time, centred around character. Because of the pressure of playing for the club in League One, players were vetted vigorously by chief scout Tony Coton to ensure they would be able to handle it. The same was the case when searching for the man to replace sacked manager Jack Ross - which is why promotion expert Parkinson was ultimately the chosen one.

And for ticking that box at least, the transfer team have done their job, giving Sunderland a huge advantage over their promotion rivals.

Well seven of Parkinson's 11 regular starters have experienced promotion before. Add to that another six players who might not be featuring too much on the pitch right now, but their influence in the dressing room can be valuable.

What's more, of the 13 players in Sunderland's squad with promotion experience, eight of those have that experience at League One level or above, or the equivalent of that elsewhere.

To add, although he has no promotion experience, Duncan Watmore does have an honour in his bag after helping England's under-21s win the prestigious Toulon Tournament back in 2016, 12 months after being named Revelation of the same tournament. His contribution to Sunderland's late Fleetwood equaliser - staying calm and composed in a crowded penalty area to tee up Power - should be noted.

In total, there are just seven players in Sunderland's squad with no promotion experience - none if you include Ethan Robson and Elliot Embleton, academy graduates on the periphery of the first team. Only four of those without are regular starters, however.

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But three of those players, Gooch, Denver Hume and Charlie Wyke were all part of Sunderland's failure last season, which in itself can be valuable experience, providing they learned from the experience.

Experience is the key word for Sunderland.

There were one or two nervy looking players on Tuesday night, but there was a clear intent and focus on grinding out a result. There's a clear desire among the whole squad to achieve success.

Those experienced heads in the dressing room - including Parkinson and his backroom team - can prove a huge advantage as we reach situation critical in the final 11 games.