WYCOMBE boss Gareth Ainsworth insists his side have a hunger to win promotion back to the Championship ahead of their clash with Wanderers.

Ainsworth’s men were relegated from the second tier by the slimmest of margins last term, finishing just one point behind 21st-placed Derby County.

The Chairboys currently sit third in the League One table - four points behind leaders Rotherham – having lost just five matches so far.

They held Sunderland to a thrilling 3-3 draw over the weekend thanks to Joe Jacobson’s dramatic late equaliser at Adams Park.

Ainsworth was delighted with the character his side showed against the Black Cats and is hopeful they can continue to pick up points in the coming weeks.

“This team never gives in, never knows when it’s beaten. The belief in the squad is incredible,” he told the club's website.

“I thought we had slightly the better of the first half, Sunderland definitely had the better of the second half.

“What a game and what a finish to it. Some mistakes, some brilliant goal-line clearances, a penalty shout – it had all sorts.

“But I’m glad to say that the graft and the effort the boys put in – they deserved something and they got a point.

“It’s testament to this group of boys that I’ve got and the belief that we can put in them, and the hunger that they’ve got to go back in the Championship in front of the fans.

“People bill us as this long-ball team – yes, we get the ball into the final third, but once we’ve in that final third, there are no better players than Garath McCleary and Anis Mehmeti at times.

“Keep billing us whatever you want, but I’m really proud of the boys.”

The match was initially in doubt after several members of the Sunderland squad tested positive for Covid-19.

Ainsworth added: “I want to give credit to Lee Johnson and Sunderland because they’ve played the game.

“They have come out and gone, ‘we’ve got Covid cases but we’ll play’. They have done it the right way.

“I’m not saying anyone hasn’t, but there are a few rumours going round that some wanted to get to the transfer window.

“We respect that massively and I’m glad that the game was such a spectacle.”

The Chairboys recorded a narrow 1-0 victory when the sides met at Adams Park earlier in the season thanks to Sam Vokes’ second-half header.

But Ainsworth is mindful that the Whites have already strengthened in the January window and is expecting a tough test at the UniBol.

“You have teams that are now improving in the January transfer window,” said the Wycombe boss.

“Bolton have signed a couple of players and with players being released, there is going to be a different look to the second half of the season.”

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