Jordan Pickford refused to be downbeat despite defeat to Manchester City yesterday – and insists Sunderland will go into the crunch Burnley game with confidence.
The Black Cats remain bottom of the Premier League and six points adrift of safety ahead of another break, with Burnley not due at the Stadium of Light until March 18.
But the 22-year-old, who kept City at bay in the second half with several important saves, believes there were plenty of positives to take.
He said: “They are one of the best teams in Europe, so you have to dig in as a team and I thought it was a good effort by the lads, but they scored two good goals.
“From my point of view, we stuck together well and kept working hard and kept to the game plan.
“I thought we did alright.
“We have a good couple of games coming up against the likes of Burnley and Hull.
“They’re the games we will be targeting, so we go from there.
“We go into every game hoping to get a result. Our effort was top drawer, but the result wasn’t to be.”
Sunderland caught City by surprise with their high energy, high-press approach to the first half.
The Black Cats carved out several good openings, with Jermain Defoe hitting the post before Billy Jones twice went close with headers.
Crucially, they failed to make any of those chances count and ruthless City sealed the win through Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane.
“If Jermain’s shot went in off the post then it could have been a different story,” added Pickford.
“As a team, we stuck together and if we keep doing that on the training pitch and in matches then we will get the results we need.”
On a personal note, Pickford is pleased to be back after two months out with a knee injury.
Pickford added: “I am working hard in training and hopefully I can help the side get out of it.
“We have to take the positives from it and target three points against Burnley.”
Vito Mannone returned to the Sunderland bench after missing the Everton game through illness.