KIERAN Richardson insists it is still premature to be linking Sunderland with the R word.
A third successive Premier League defeat against Blackburn Rovers on Sunday would see the Black Cats sink into the bottom three.
Sunderland have taken just two points from their last five games, with that paltry return seeing the Wearsiders slump to a solitary place above third bottom Blackburn.
But left-back Richardson believes Sunderland can swiftly haul themselves away from danger, particularly if new boss Martin O’Neill can provide an instant upturn in results.
Richardson told the Echo: “It’s too early to be talking about relegation.
“It’s so tight down there. If you win two games, you leap up the league so you can’t go too much by positions at this stage.
“But we want to get wins because we don’t want to be down there.
“Hopefully the new manager can give us a spark and by January-time, we’ll be further up the table and we can push on from there.”
Sunderland had earmarked the successive games with fellow strugglers Fulham, Wigan, Wolves and Blackburn as the perfect opportunity to push towards the top half.
But the Black Cats have managed just one point from the first three games and a failure to beat Blackburn would leave O’Neill’s new side in the mire, ahead of a trip to third placed Tottenham.
A lack of goals has been the principle reason for Sunderland’s struggles after just two from the last four games.
But Richardson says he still has faith in Sunderland’s frontmen to find the ruthlessness needed to push the Wearsiders up the table.
“It’s a massive game against Blackburn,” added the 27-year-old.
“All games in the Premier League are big, but we should be picking up points from the teams around us and it hasn’t gone our way.
“Knowing Sunderland, we’ll probably go and beat the bigger teams.
“But we’ve trained hard this week with a new manager and new coaching staff and we’ll try to get a win against Blackburn.
“We’re lacking that killer instinct at the moment, but I’m sure it will come.
“I believe in my team-mates and I’m sure we’ll get those goals.”