PHIL BARDSLEY insists Sunderland will reach two milestones if they taste victory at Everton tomorrow.
Sunderland head to Goodison Park on the back of three successive defeats – a run which has seen them lose their top six spot to Everton’s city rivals Liverpool.
But a win on Merseyside would represent Sunderland’s first at Goodison since 1996 and more importantly take them towards the 40-point survival benchmark.
While Sunderland are not threatened with being sucked into the relegation scrap, full-back Bardsley believes reaching the 40-point tally remains important psychologically.
“We’re in a good position and looking to finish in the top 10, but I think reaching the 40-point mark is still a big psychological hurdle,” he said.
“It’s the points total people talk about at the start of the season, because it usually means safety.
“We’ll be able to relax just a little when we get to 40 and if we get there tomorrow at Everton then so much the better.”
The Toffees are unbeaten in their last 13 games against Sunderland, stretching back to 2001, and have won 10 of those games.
The 25-year-old added: “We’ve got a poor record there, but hopefully we can go there and give a good account of ourselves.
“If we do that, we have got half a chance.
“But Everton are a good team with good players and they got a good result at the weekend against Chelsea in the FA Cup, so they will be fairly confident, too.”
Bardsley insists the back-to-back losses to Chelsea, Stoke and Spurs have not dampened the confidence in the Sunderland camp, with Steve Bruce’s side acquitting themselves well in all three games.
“It’s a wrinkle, but no one is on a downer because we’ve played very well in the three games – particularly against Stoke, where I felt we battered them and it was just a lack of concentration that led to us conceding bad goals,” said the former Manchester United defender.
“It was always going to be difficult against Chelsea, because they are one of the best teams in the land, and then I thought we did well against Spurs and were unlucky not to get a result.
“That’s the way it goes, though, and it does mean there is a bit of pressure on us to stop the run and pick up points this weekend.
“Goodison Park is a difficult place to go, but I’m sure that, with this team and the way we’ve been playing, we are capable of going there and getting something from the game.”