BILLY JONES is confident Sunderland will beat the drop if they maintain their performance levels from the Wear-Tyne derby.
Sunderland moved three points clear of the relegation zone after yesterday’s 1-0 win over Newcastle United, with the Black Cats leapfrogging fellow strugglers Aston Villa and Hull in the process.
It was only a second Premier League victory of 2015 for Sunderland – and just a fifth of the season in total – yet right-back Jones believes there will be more wins to come if Dick Advocaat’s side can replicate that standard in the final seven games.
“I think we played really well and if we set that level for the rest of the season, we’ll be fine and we’ll get a few more home wins for the fans,” said Jones.
“We saw the results on Saturday and talked about it being a must-win.
“I feel if we can play to that level, we’ll win more than we lose.
“I think we played on the front foot, at a really good tempo, passed the ball well.
“We seemed to be winning the individual battles and the 50-50s, but to go in at half-time 0-0 would have been frustrating.
“But for Jermain (Defoe) to score the goal he did was unreal.
“We were made up for him that it turned out to be the winner.”
Jones hadn’t started a Premier League game since January, with Anthony Reveillere preferred at right-back in recent weeks.
But the former West Brom man suspected he might have a chance during training last week, with Advocaat’s decision rewarded by an assured display from the 28-year-old.
“The gaffer does an 11-a-side session a couple of days before the game,” added Jones.
“I had an inkling then and that was confirmed in the pre-match team meeting.
“I was really looking forward to it and then you start preparing when you think you’re starting.
“Obviously you have those pre-match nerves with it being a derby, but first and foremost I wanted to do a job and be part of a good team performance that got the win.”