KEVIN Phillips says both Sunderland and Birmingham City will stay up this season.
Having spent much of the season watching his former club and all of it playing for his current one, the Black Cats’ legend is convinced both teams will be playing Premier League football in the 2011/12 season.
But he admits that when the two sides meet tomorrow he will be doing his level best to ensure Sunderland’s slide towards the danger zone continues.
Phillips told the Echo: “There’ll be no divided loyalties from me this weekend – however much a special place Sunderland might hold in my heart.
“My job is to go out there and either get goals or create goals for Birmingham City and I’ll be focused on that 100 per cent for every minute I’m on the pitch on Saturday.
“You can’t go out there with your mind in a muddle – I’ve learned that much over the years – you’ve got to go out there with a clear head and do the job you’re paid for and, for me, that is doing the best I possibly can for Birmingham City.
“But, having said that, it won’t stop me wishing Sunderland all the best before and after the game.
“I want both clubs to stay up this season and I believe that they will.
“Birmingham are a little too close to the relegation zone for comfort, but, when you look at the fixtures remaining, it’s very much in our own hands.
“As well as the game against Sunderland, who have been on a bad run of form, we’ve got Wolves and Fulham and we feel we’ve got enough in the locker to get the couple of wins we’ll need to make ourselves safe.
“Sunderland probably just need one more win, maybe a draw after that, to be safe and, although they’re on a horrible run right now, I can’t see them not getting at least one or two results before the end of the season.
“I’ve watched a lot of Sunderland this season because of the media work I’ve been doing – they’re always interested in me covering Sunderland games – and I just think that Sunderland have got too much ability in their side not to have one or two results go their way.
“All clubs go through bad patches and that’s all Sunderland are going through now.
“It’s only a matter of time, with the players they have, that they start winning games again but obviously I’ll be doing my best to make sure that doesn’t happen this weekend.”
SuperKev wove himself into Wearside history across six years at the club from 1997-2003, scoring 130 goals and ensuring that the only Englishman ever to win Europe’s Golden Shoe award – for his 30 Premier League goals in 1999/2000 – was wearing the red and white stripes of Sunderland when the feat was achieved.
And he says that, as the years roll by, his time at the club becomes ever more special.
He said: “I treasure my time at Sunderland and my wife Julie and me love coming back to the area. They were just great times we had at the club and the more you look back on them, the more you realise just how good those days were.”