TITUS BRAMBLE says struggling Sunderland will not write off either of their games against Manchester United or Chelsea.
The forthcoming pair of fixtures are arguably the most difficult pairing in the entire Black Cats’ campaign, with United runaway league leaders and Chelsea once again zeroing in on a Champions League spot.
But Bramble – who is expected to start tomorrow’s Stadium of Light clash with Carlos Cuellar sidelined by injury – insists Martin O’Neill’s men will approach both matches with determination and expectation.
“We need to get points because we’re not out of it yet and the sooner we get them the better,” said the 31-year old.
“And we cannot afford to assume any of these games coming up are games where we won’t get anything – no matter how difficult they may look.
“It is surprising how often you can pick up points from games you least expect – that’s the beauty of football and I’ve seen it happen so many times.
“We have to make sure we don’t worry about the quality of the opposition.
“We just have to look to ourselves because we have some fantastic players in our squad, players who are capable of winning games for us on any given day.”
Despite his insistence that Sunderland must look to get something out of these next two games, he is not blind to the quality and the danger of tomorrow’s opposition.
But he says it is a game Sunderland’s fans and players have to look forward to.
“The challenging thing about playing Manchester United – especially from a defender’s point of view – is that they can score goals from all over the pitch,” said the centre-half.
“First of all you’ve got the likes of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney up front and they’ve also got Danny Welbeck and Chico Hernandez to call on too – four amazing strikers.
“But as if that wasn’t enough, they’ve got midfielders who regularly weigh in with goals and defenders who get in on the act.
“There’s talk about Man United having a packed fixture schedule and maybe resting a few players for our game but they’ve got something like 22 world class players.
“So it’s no consolation if they rest Rooney and bring on van Persie or rest a couple of players and start with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes!
“When you’re facing arguably the best team in the world though, that’s the sort of threat you’ve got to expect.
“As a kid growing up wanting to be a professional footballer, you dream of being involved in games like these.
“And I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in big games like these for years.
“There’s nothing better than playing a side like Manchester United and doing yourself justice and that’s what we’ll aim to do this weekend.”