Sunderland need to be mentally stronger, says DeAndre Yedlin

Sunderland must show more mental toughness in their battle against the drop after throwing away a lead for the third successive match.
DeAndre YedlinDeAndre Yedlin
DeAndre Yedlin

DeAndre Yedlin believes being mentally and physically stronger is a priority in the final eight games of the nerve-jangling Premier League run-in.

Sunderland certainly need to find a quick fix after their inability to hold onto a lead has now cost valuable points against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Newcastle United.

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Jermain Defoe struck first blood to give Sam Allardyce’s side a deserved lead in the Tyne-Wear derby before Aleksandar Mitrovic levelled late on with a towering header.

The point leaves Sunderland third-bottom, two points behind Norwich City, who have played an extra game.

But with time quickly running out, Yedlin knows Allardyce’s men cannot keep chucking away points if they are to avoid relegation to the Championship.

“It’s definitely disappointing to give away that late goal,” Yedlin said.

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“The good thing is we’re not losing.

“But the last few games, we should have got wins and the games are very important for us.

“I’m not sure what it is for us.

“Maybe it comes down to the mental side and being a little bit stronger and having a bit more grit.

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“But, the next games are important, especially the next two which are at home.

“It’s definitely something we have to start working on when we’ve got the lead.

“We have to keep putting pressure on teams.

“But I’m sure we’ll be working on it on the training pitch and looking forwards to the next few games.”

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The 22-year-old was partly at fault for the late equaliser.

Mitrovic got above Yedlin to direct his header across Vito Mannone, with the full-back blighting an otherwise encouraging performance moments earlier with a schoolboy foul throw in the build-up.

While the late equaliser was gut-wrenching for Allardyce, his squad and the watching Sunderland fans, Yedlin was keen to take the positives from the game.

“Definitely, that’s always the thing in the derby,” said Yedlin when asked whether the most important thing was not to lose.

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“If you can’t win, then a draw is OK, especially away from home.

“We couldn’t afford to lose in the relegation battle either.

“A point was alright, but three would have been better.”

There was no question Norwich City were the weekend’s big winners though after their win over West Brom and the spoils being shared in the Tyne-Wear derby.

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Yedlin added: “We’ve just got to worry about ourselves and getting wins. We can’t worry about Norwich.

“If we win our games, then we’ll be fine.

“We have to keep ourselves motivated. We’re still in an OK position, even though we’re in the relegation zone.

“The game against West Brom in a fortnight is a huge one and we’ll be looking to get three points.”

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It was the first taste of St James’s Park and the red-hot derby atmosphere for the American right-back, who is on a season-long loan from Tottenham Hotspur.

“I loved it, it was a great atmosphere,” reflected Yedlin.

“Obviously the one at the Stadium of Light was good as well.

“USA v Mexico probably comes close to that atmosphere.”