PHIL BARDSLEY is confident that Sunderland will beat the drop if they maintain their dogged determination to keep the Black Cats in the Premier League.
Sunderland remain just two points above the bottom three in a congested bottom half, with fellow strugglers Cardiff, West Ham and Stoke also victorious over the weekend.
But after Saturday’s Tyne-Wear derby triumph secured back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time this season, Sunderland moved up to 14th spot as their renaissance under Gus Poyet continues.
And after taking 10 points from the last four league games, full-back Bardsley, again immense in the 3-0 victory over Newcastle United, believes the commitment of Sunderland’s players will see them achieve top-flight survival.
Bardsley said: “The boys are willing to throw their bodies on the line and run through brick walls for each other.
“That’s what it’s all about at this football club.
“As long as we continue doing that, there should be no reason why we don’t stay in this league.
“The encouragement we show each other on the pitch and the communication is fantastic.
“Players are comfortable taking the ball in tight positions and I think our all-round defensive game has come on massively, so credit to the manager for doing that.
“We walked in (to St James’s Park) with a smile on our faces, knowing full well we were going there to give them a game and we did that.
“They are a good team – the league doesn’t lie.
“But it was all down to us, I thought we were fantastic right from the start.”
Bardsley helped to spark a second successive 3-0 win on Tyneside when he collected Adam Johnson’s clever chip and drew the foul from Vurnon Anita which saw Fabio Borini hand Sunderland the lead from the penalty spot.
Johnson and Bardsley have formed an effective partnership down the right-hand side over recent weeks and the ex-Manchester United defender says the pair are enjoying working effectively in harmony.
“The counter-attacking we played and the relationship me and Johnno have built up in the last couple of months is there to be seen,” added the 28-year-old.
“The first goal has come from that. We’re playing well together and we’re enjoying it.
“(For the penalty) Johnno has sucked two players towards him and I’ve just made a run in behind him and he’s found me with a lovely little dink.
“I took a touch and I think it’s a stonewall pen. He’s took me out.
“There was a lot of pressure on Fabio to put the ball in the back of the net, but he did that quite comfortably.”