SUNDERLAND skipper Lee Cattermole says the Black Cats can face Manchester City without any fear tomorrow.
City, who are locked in a two-way title battle with rivals Manchester United, have yet to taste defeat at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League this term.
In fact, Roberto Mancini’s men have won all 15 league clashes on home turf this season.
That would suggest that getting a result tomorrow is a big ask for the Wearsiders, but Cattermole says the heat is very much on the hosts.
“It’s a big game,” he said. “But it’s the sort of game you can go and enjoy.
“Manchester City are fighting for the title, and there is going to be a lot of pressure on them to get a result.”
City are three points behind United in the title race, and will expect to pick up three points from a home game against Sunderland.
But Mancini’s men were clear favourites when they visited the Stadium of Light on New Year’s Day, and came away empty-handed.
A superb defensive display from Martin O’Neill’s men, and a goal from substitute Ji Dong-won in time added on, saw Sunderland claim the spoils.
And while it is a big ask, Cattermole believes it shows that the red and whites are capable of causing City problems.
He said: “We have to go there and be fully committed like we have been all season. If we do that we can get back to being a team that is hard to beat.
“We beat City at home, so we have the ability to get at them. We can go there and give it a good go.”
Sunderland’s midweek FA Cup disappointment was Cattermole’s first game back after serving a four-match ban.
Cattermole was sent off in the heated derby draw with Newcastle United, and was given an extra game suspension as it was his second dismissal of the campaign.
The skipper admitted the 2-0 quarter-final defeat at the hands of Everton wasn’t how he wanted to return to the fold, but said it was good to be back.
“I enjoy playing. I love pulling on the shirt, but obviously the result wasn’t what we wanted.
“It has been frustrating having to sit out the last few weeks, so I’m looking forward to the next six or seven weeks, starting against City tomorrow.”
Cattermole says Sunderland can learn from their FA Cup heartache this week.
He said: “It was a big night for everybody, and we will all take as much out of it as we can.
“But now we have to focus on the league and aim to finish in the top half. We’ve got a big game, and we have got to go again.
“We have to come back with fire in our bellies and fight for every single point between now and the end of the season.”