GUS Poyet says his players must put relegation fears to one side for Everton’s visit to the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland’s position at the bottom of the Premier League is perilous and this weekend they face one of the form sides of the division - the Toffees having won their last five games to put them on the brink of a Champions League place.
But Poyet says if his players go into the game suffering from the fear factor, they will invite defeat.
“We need to send out the right message, that we are not down yet, that we still have games to go and we have to believe,” he said.
“We just have to forget our position and concentrate on playing the game this weekend.
“I think that’s vital.
“You can’t go out and play your natural game with one eye on the table, you just have to play the game itself.
“We beat Everton earlier in the season, so we need to hang on to that thought, even though Saturday will be a completely different game.”
Poyet says the coaching staff and the players have moved on swiftly from the heavy 5-1 defeat at Spurs on Monday.
And now he says the players must look to bounce back looking to revive hopes on Wearside this weekend.
“I think our reactions have been quick this week in terms of analysis - we don’t want to analyse the past too much at this stage.
“It’s a special time and we need special characters.
“It’s a learning time for me too in terms of the squad.
“I think everybody has a right to criticise what I might do but I don’t pay attention to that, my concern is to do the best I can, as I see it and that’s what I’m doing.
“For now, we just have to concentrate on the next match and picking up points.
“We are running out of matches, so it has to be now.”
* Don’t miss tomorrow’s online Football Echo – available on this website from around 6.45pm – with our report, pictures and verdict on Sunderland v Everton, plus much more.