Mignolet gets Sunderland fired up for vital Premier run

Sunderland's Simon Mignolet.

Sunderland's Simon Mignolet.

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SIMON MIGNOLET admits Sunderland’s next three games are crucial, as the Black Cats look to end the longest Premier League losing streak of Martin O’Neill’s stewardship.

February has proved to be a miserable month for Sunderland, with defeats in all three outings sending O’Neill’s side back to the outer fringes of the relegation scrap after they had been on the verge of entering the top half for the first time this season,

Goalkeeper Mignolet is confident Sunderland can swiftly rise away from danger to a healthier position, with only four points separating the Wearsiders from 10th-placed Stoke City.

But the Belgian knows that Sunderland must put points on the board in three successive outings against bottom-half peers.

Sunderland host Fulham and Norwich, sandwiched by a trip to basement boys QPR, before a pair of daunting encounters against leaders Manchester United and Chelsea following the international break.

Mignolet told the Echo: “We know that if we can get a run of good results, then we can climb the table very quickly.

“Let’s hope we can do that over the next three games.

“When you play against the teams who are in the same position as you in the table, it makes the games even more important.

“Hopefully we can get the points against them and then have a good end of the season.”

Missed chances have been at the root cause of Sunderland’s slump, with O’Neill’s men blowing late opportunities in defeats to Reading, Arsenal and West Brom.

Although Mignolet believes he was out of luck with West Brom’s crucial second last Saturday – when his clearance cannoned against Romelu Lukaku and into the net – he knows Sunderland must be more ruthless in capitalising on opportunities.

“We were a bit unfortunate against West Brom and how they scored the second goal,” added the 24-year-old.

“It was a bit of a fluke, but we had chances to get a result ourselves.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get any points, so let’s hope we can do that now against Fulham.

“Hopefully we can turn the chances around and start taking them.”

Meanwhile, Mignolet has moved to dampen speculation linking him with a move away from the Stadium of Light after comments made by his agent.

The Echo reported yesterday how the keeper’s representative, Guy Vandersmissen suggested in the Belgian media that he may need to move on to regain his spot in the national side.

“I felt I wanted to communicate with the club’s fans following the media reaction to comments made by my representative, which I feel were taken out of context and not a true reflection,” Mignolet told the club’s website.

“Of course, my ambition is to regain the number one spot with my national team, but I feel I can do that with Sunderland.

“I was playing as Belgium’s number one a year ago and hopefully that can be the case in the future.

“I am happy at Sunderland – a club I am proud to represent.”