SIMON Mignolet believes Sunderland’s players will reap the benefits of a 10-day breather, writes Chris Young.
Sunderland’s FA Cup third round humiliation at the hands of Championship Bolton leaves the Black Cats without a game when the competition’s fourth round ties take place this weekend.
But while the disappointment of being knocked out of the cup at the first hurdle continues to rankle, Sunderland have been able to catch their breath after a hectic spell of eight games inside 28 days.
Nine of Sunderland’s players started all four of the Premier League encounters either side of Christmas, while the replay against Bolton only added to the fixture demands.
Boss Martin O’Neill gave his players a couple of days off earlier this week and goalkeeper Mignolet says they will now be fresh for the visit of Capital One Cup finalists Swansea next Tuesday.
Mignolet told the Echo: “We can rest a bit before the game against Swansea because there’s a lot of guys who’ve played a lot of games during the winter period.
“It will be good to freshen legs up a bit.”
Sunderland head into the Swansea game in buoyant mood after securing back-to-back league wins for only the second time this season at Wigan last weekend.
The threat of relegation is gradually receding for O’Neill’s side, who now boast a nine-point buffer with the bottom three.
And with only a solitary point separating the Black Cats from the top half of the table, Mignolet sees no barrier towards Sunderland continuing their resurgence up the league.
“We’ve won two in a row now and got a couple of decent games coming up so why can’t we keep going?” added the Belgian.
“Before the game at Wigan if you saw the gap with the relegation zone, it wasn’t much of one.
“But now after the win, we’ve kept Wigan down there and now we’re up to 11th which is more like it.
“That’s where we want to be and even higher.
“We can look forward now. We’re just one point off 10th and there’s still a lot to play for.”