Seven up surge – That’s the big aim for under-pressure Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce
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The Black Cats boss is under no illusions that the club has been drawn to the very brink of the Premier League relegation dogfight by a dreadful run of results which has seen just one point taken from their last 21.

STEVE Bruce says Sunderland have seven games to save their season, beginning with Saturday’s visit of on-form West Bromwich Albion.

The Black Cats boss is under no illusions that the club has been drawn to the very brink of the Premier League relegation dogfight by a dreadful run of results which has seen just one point taken from their last 21.

But he says the squad still has it in them to send supporters into the close season with smiles on their faces.

Bruce (pictured) told the Echo: “We’ve always known that the sequence of fixtures we’ve been through would up there with the very toughest of the season and we’ve always known that these last seven games would give us a platform on which we might finish the season strongly.

“The seven games we’ve just had have proved more of a test than expected.

“I certainly expected to take more than one point from them.

“We let ourselves down in a couple of them – Everton, Manchester City – but the one that still rankles with me is the Stoke City game where we were 2-1 up with eight minutes to go and ended up losing to two offside goals.

“Had we won that, we’d have been over the 40-point mark, still in the top half, and there’d be a different complexion on things. There’s never any point in crying over spilt milk, though.

“We have to go forward and we have to do as well in terms of results in these next seven games as we’ve done poorly in the previous seven.

“Our first job is to get over that 40-point mark and West Brom this Saturday provides us with an opportunity to do it. We know it will be tough because they’ve got exactly the same motivation as us, which is getting clear of the battle at the bottom.

“But we’re at home, we’ve got a whole bunch of talent in our squad and, if we can get the win, we can start looking at finishing the season strongly.

“A good top-10 finish remains the target and if we produce the play we’re capable off in these last seven games then I’m confident we’ll get it.”

Bruce admits that his hopes of that strong finish have been harmed by the injuries sustained by Titus Bramble and Fraizer Campbell which has cast doubts on whether they’ll be involved at all in the remainder of the campaign.

But the manager says the time to bemoan the injury list has gone now.

“It has been a problem for us all year, but we’ve got to forget about that and get on with the task in hand,” he added.

“It’s all about the players who are out there on matchday now, not the one on the treatment tables.

“Although we’ve got some key players out, we’ve still got enough in the squad to go out there and get some good results in these remaining games.”