Chris Coleman has told his Sunderland squad they must show more ‘toughness and aggression’ if they are to escape the drop.
The Black Cats remain bottom of the Championship after Saturday’s humiliating 4-0 thrashing by a Cardiff City side ending a four-game losing run.
Manager Coleman was visibly angry and frustrated post-match and told his players what they need to do if they are to survive.
Josh Maja, who led the line at the Cardiff City Stadium, revealed the mood of the Sunderland dressing room.
But the teenager insists that Sunderland DO have the necessary fight within the squad needed to climb out the bottom three.
The situation facing the Black Cats is increasingly bleak, with relegation to League One a bigger possibility with every passing week.
Sunderland are three points adrift of safety with just four wins from 27 games played.
Maja remains confident they can pull away from danger, though.
“The players were frustrated and down in the dressing room at the end,” said the 19-year-old.
“The manager has said we need to show more toughness and more aggression to fight and get results.
“I believe we have that within us, 100 per cent. We just need to stick together and continue to keep working hard. We have to keep believing.”
Sunderland’s cause at Cardiff was not helped by wantaway midfielder Didier Ndong’s 49th-minute red card.
Sunderland were 1-0 down at that point and collapsed further in a dismal second-half performance.
Maja added: “When I first saw it, I didn’t think it was a red. I still don’t now.
“I felt it was a harsh decision, but the referee made his decision and we can’t change that now.”