SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Red-hot Ross, Elliott’s ready

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago today.

RED HOT ROSS:

Wallace the hero, but not sure to face Saints

ROSS WALLACE continued his incredible goal record with the winner against Wolves – but hasn’t a clue if that will earn him a place at Southampton today.

 Four of the winger’s five Sunderland goals have turned out to be the winning strike.

 And he was the Black Cats’ man of the moment against Mick McCarthy’s Wolves on Saturday as his 63rd-minute header sealed a crucial victory.

 Despite also netting the winner at Cardiff a week earlier, Wallace is not taking his place for granted.

 He said: “The manager stressed that everybody has a part to play.

 “We have a strong squad of players and when you look at people like Stokesy (Anthony Stokes) and Yorkey (Dwight Yorke), who weren’t playing on Saturday, it just shows you how strong we are.

 “I would think those two will be playing against Southampton.

 “We have a lot of players so, when you get your chance you have to take it, it’s as simple as that.

 “The gaffer looks like he’s going to make changes down there and hopefully the lads that come in will do the job.”

 Southampton have kept their promotion hopes alive after back-to-back wins against Wolves (6-0) and Luton (2-0) left George Burley’s side sixth in the last play-off place – moving above Wolves after their Stadium of Light defeat.

 Saints are the Championships’s joint top scorers and Wallace was Sunderland’s scorer against them in November’s 1-1 draw.

 The former Celtic man said: “We’re already looking at the Southampton game and hopefully we can get the win we need.

 “They’re a good team. I know George Burley quite well from when I was up in Scotland. He did really well with Hearts and had them playing really good football.

 “They got a draw up here, but, with the guys we’ve got, we’ll go there with belief.

 “In terms of holding our nerve, the team is a reflection of the manager and we’re just playing under his instructions.

 “We can just hook the ball forward, but we’re not going to do that just for the sake of it.

 “We play to our strengths and that means getting the ball down and passing it.”

 Sunderland had the better chances throughout against Wolves on Saturday, but were made to battle all the way for their 12th minute triumph in 15 unbeaten contests.

 “I thought it was a difficult game,” said Wallace.

 “Wolves are a big strong team and they like a battle. Losing the goal so soon after scoring the second was a blow but we managed to hold out.”

ELL RAISER:

Fit-again Stephen’s full of energy for promotion run-in

STEPHEN Elliott aims to give Sunderland’s impressive promotion bid fresh energy.

 The Republic of Ireland striker ended his 11-game injury exile by returning in Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Wolves, which took the Black Cats into an automatic promotion place ahead of today’s Bank Holiday trip to Southampton.

 Elliott already owns Championship-winners’ medal from his time on Wearside and is looking to take the positives from his lay-off after ankle surgery.

 The 23-year-old said: “I wish I hadn’t missed all of these games but it might turn out to be a good thing.

 “A few of us are coming back from injuries and we’re all fresh. Carlos (Edwards) got back into it on Saturday after a few weeks out and he’s been a big player for us since he came back to the club.

 “We’re giving the gaffer some more options. If you compare us to the other top sides, we’ve got two players for every position.

 “No matter what team the gaffer puts out, we’re confident we’ll win.

 “But you just have to look at the results from Saturday to see that we can’t take our eye off the ball.”

 Sunderland replaced Birmingham in second spot after Steve Bruce’s Blues fell to a shock 1-0 home loss to Burnley.

 With promotion rivals Preston, West Brom and Cardiff also falling to defeats – and leaders Derby only drawing 1-1 with Leicester on Good Friday – Sunderland were the only top-six side to win their opening Easter fixture.

 Elliott said: “It was good to go in at the end and see a few other results go for us.

 “It made our win a bit more satisfying.

 “But all we have to do is keep winning and the rest takes care of itself. It’s quite simple.”

 Birmingham are now third with a game in hand – two points behind the Wearsiders – with leaders Derby a point better off than Roy Keane’s men.

 The Rams’ inferior goal difference means that, effectively, Sunderland need to gather one point more than Derby in the remaining five games to secure automatic promotion.

 But Elliott – a veteran of the 2004/5 championship-winning Sunderland side – steered clear of the various possibilities by insisting: “Anything can happen, but it is not too complicated, really.

 “It is just a game of football at the end of the day.

 “We go to Southampton now and hope to win another game and that’s the only thing we can control.