Fabio Borini has stressed that Sunderland have the chance to secure their own destiny in the next two “critical” away games.
Despite a significant upturn in performances over the last half-dozen games, Sunderland boast a precarious one-point buffer with the bottom three, which could be overturned if Norwich City produce a shock win over Manchester City this weekend.
Sunderland also have to contend with a potentially resurgent Newcastle United after Steve McClaren’s dismissal and the arrival of Rafa Benitez at St James’s Park.
But Sunderland’s next two games on the road are against their two relegation rivals, with the Black Cats tackling the Magpies in the Tyne-Wear derby next week, before travelling to Carrow Road next month.
Faced with those fixtures, frontman Borini says Sunderland have the opportunity to register two of the four wins which are likely to be sufficient to secure Premier League survival.
“Staying up depends on us,” said Borini.
“Now we have two matches against Newcastle and Norwich which will be critical.
“I came here to stay in the Premier League and we will fight until the end.”
Borini missed October’s win over Newcastle with an ankle injury, but he looks a certain starter for the trip to St James’s on Sunday-week.
The Italian netted a stunning stoppage-time equaliser in last week’s draw with Crystal Palace, and was Sunderland’s best attacking player against Southampton last weekend.
The £10million summer signing feels he is coming into form and has not ruled out his prospects of a place in the Italy squad for the summer’s European Championship.
“Now I’m doing well, I’ve got back among the goals and I feel fit,” he added to the Italian media.
“This is the league that suits me, with its greater intensity.
“I want to stay up with Sunderland and then go to the European Championships with the national team.
“I have to take advantage of the lack of consistency that the Italian attackers are having this season.
“Also, there are no (Alessandro) Del Piero, (Francesco) Totti, (Christian) Vieri or (Filippo) Inzaghis, as there was once.
“There’s more opportunities for everyone.”