Sunderland defender targets net gains

Ondrej Celustka

Ondrej Celustka

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ONDREJ Celustka says Sunderland must score many more goals this season if they want to stay in the Premier League.

And he says that the Black Cats’ defenders and midfielders have to play their part in helping the attackers out in the games ahead.

“It’s absolutely right that we have to improve front of goal,” he told the Echo.

“That’s something we have talked about quite a bit – the need to be better with our offensive actions when we are in possession.

“We have seen a lot of the ball in recent games without looking like scoring many goals and that needs to change. People can talk about the goals we let in, and I understand that, but it’s just as important that we score more too.”

The defender is quick to admit that the number of goals conceded by the Black Cats has been the most eye-catching statistic of the campaign so far.

Sunderland have let in 24 goals and have a goal difference of minus 16 – comfortably the worst in the division.

But they have their problems at the other end too, having only scored two goals in a league game once all season – in the derby victory over Newcastle United – while drawing a blank in five Premier League so far.

Only Crystal Palace with seven goals, have scored fewer than Sunderland’s eight this season and Celustka acknowledges that eight goals in 12 games is nowhere near good enough a ratio to stay in the division.

“Defensively we have not been great but we are working hard to put that right and there have been real signs of improvement in the last few weeks,” he said.

“We kept our first clean sheet against Manchester City a couple of weeks ago and in the last few games have not been conceding that many.

“We have to keep that improvement going.

“But we also we have to score more goals at the other end too, because so far it is not enough,and we all have a part to play in that.”

Celustka, who recently scored on his full international debut in the Czech Republic’s 2-0 win over Canada, is hoping players all over the pitch can play their part.

“The main responsibility for scoring goals lies with the strikers but everyone needs to help,” he said.

“Trying to get forward to attack has always been a part of my game but it is pleasing that the new head coach wants the full-backs to push on and stay high up the field.

“And while we need to improve defensively, there’s no doubt that we need to be scoring more goals to increase our chances of realistically getting the points we need.

“It means that we have to work hard as a team to support each other because we need to be strong in defence and strong in attack too.”