Sam Allardyce says there is the self-belief in the Sunderland squad that they can remain on the “right track” for Premier League survival by winning at Stoke City this weekend.
Although Saturday’s opponents Stoke have shipped 12 goals in three successive defeats, the Black Cats have only triumphed once at the Britannia Stadium during the Premier League era.
However, a four-point haul from the last two games has moved Sunderland out of the relegation zone, with Allardyce quietly confident that they can remain in fourth bottom spot by inflicting defeat on the Potters.
“The challenge to the players is to stay out the bottom three by going to Stoke and trying to get a win,” said Allardyce.
“Can we stay out the bottom three by winning at Stoke and taking it from there?
“It’s always a big ask to go away from home in the Premier League and win when you’re fighting against relegation.
“But our performances are good – very good at Norwich and again against Arsenal.
“Hopefully we can keep that up and get enough points to stay out of trouble.”
Allardyce had a tinge of disappointment that Sunderland failed to record a second successive win against Arsenal on Sunday, yet he admits he can’t ask much more from his players on present form.
He added: “I think the resilience of the team and the way they’re playing, I couldn’t ask for anymore on the performance against Arsenal.
“And that’s very much been the case this year.
“We’ve grown in confidence since January.
“We have slipped up by not getting more points and not making our position safer.
“But we’re heading down the right track and if you take Arsenal right to the wire, I think the lads know they’re doing that.”