David Moyes wants Sunderland to go as far as possible in the EFL Cup but admits the Premier League has to be the priority.
Sunderland make the long trip to the south coast tomorrow to face Southampton in the fourth round of the competition – the first time they have managed that since their run to the final in 2014.
It is a welcome distraction from the club’s dire league form, which sees Sunderland rooted to the bottom and five points adrift of safety after nine games without a win.
Moyes is targeting a cup run, knowing it could help kick-start the league campaign.
But he admits securing top flight status has to be the priority this season.
“Anything we can get right now, we’ll take,” said Moyes.
“If we can get a good cup run, that would be great.
“But of course the Premier League is the thing we need to concentrate on, that has to be the focus.
“I hope we can do well in the cup, though – I’d love to get through to the later rounds – but if you give me a choice, I’ll take the Premier League all day long.”
Sunderland have beaten Shrewsbury Town and QPR to reach the fourth round, with a Paddy McNair brace securing victory at Loftus Road in the last round.
Moyes is under no illusions how important a win would be, to raise morale and confidence in the Sunderland squad and amongst the club’s supporters.
“Winning the next game and moving on would give us a huge lift,” added the Sunderland boss.
“We beat QPR in the last round of the cup and then came back here to the Stadium of Light and were 2-0 up against Crystal Palace.
“I know we ended up losing, but the positive result against QPR did make a difference in terms of the mood.
“It’s important for the fans as well.
“I don’t take the support for granted, and it is important that we start to get some results.”
Sunderland head into the game at St Mary’s Stadium (kick-off 7.45pm) fresh from the gut-wrenching 1-0 defeat to West Ham United at the weekend.
Winston Reid hit the winning goal four minutes into injury-time at the London Stadium, to leave Sunderland floored.
Sunderland had switched off for a late corner, with Dimitri Payet playing the ball to an unmarked Reid on the edge of the area, his strike going through a crowd of players.
It was a huge blow to the Black Cats, who deserved a point from the game, and Moyes is looking forward to a quick return to action.
Moyes added: “I want us to play again, I want us to get back out on the pitch again, and collectively we want to try to get through to the next round of the cup if we can do.”