JACK COLBACK admits any momentum Sunderland generated from back-to-back Premier League victories has been halted by successive defeats, writes Chris Young.
But the midfielder is eager for the Black Cats to restore some impetus tomorrow by ensuring safe passage into the FA Cup’s fourth round.
Sunderland looked to have turned a corner when they beat struggling Southampton and reigning champions Manchester City – a haul that arguably exceeded expectations from a tough festive programme.
But successive defeats to Spurs and Liverpool have kept O’Neill’s side immediately above the bottom three, with only four points now separating them from the drop zone.
Tomorrow’s trip to Championship side Bolton provides some respite from the demands of the Premier League though, as Sunderland look to emulate last season’s run to the latter stages of the cup.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re in the draw and then we’ve got a home game coming up after that, against West Ham, to get some more points,” said Colback.
“It was a great win against Southampton and to follow that up against Manchester City was even better.
“But after getting those two wins, it’s almost made it more disappointing we’ve lost the next two because it’s kind of halted our momentum.
“We got the two wins which gave us a boost and we went into the games against Tottenham and Liverpool with a lot of confidence.
“We fell short against Tottenham and on Wednesday night at Liverpool, we didn’t really turn up.
“We’re happy with the two wins, but we still need to kick on and get more points.
“We know now we can beat teams and we’re hoping to do more of that in the second half of the season.”
Bolton have provided precious little evidence that they can return to the Premier League at the first time of asking despite October’s change in the dug-out, with ex-Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman replacing Owen Coyle at the helm.
The Trotters lie closer to the Championship relegation zone than the play-offs after a modest two wins in their last seven outings.
But with Kevin Davies, a transfer target for O’Neill last January, still leading the line, Colback knows Freedman’s side will provide a direct threat to Sunderland’s patched-up defence.
“It’s always the same story when you go to places like that,” added the midfielder.
“They’ll put in some long balls and try to put pressure on us.
“But we’ve got to withstand that and make sure we’re in the hat for the next round.”