Sunderland must get back to basics and stop “shooting themselves in the foot” if they are to survive in the Premier League, says skipper John O’Shea.
A demoralising 2-0 defeat in the bottom-of-the-table clash with Stoke City leaves Sunderland propping up the rest of the top flight.
Experienced O’Shea concedes the growing injury list – with nine first-team players currently out – would have a “massive impact” on any side.
But he says there are no hiding places in the Premier League and winless Sunderland must improve quickly.
Sunderland have started poorly for the past four seasons and managed to survive, but O’Shea says something has to change.
“We don’t want to keep drawing on those past experiences,” O’Shea told the Echo.
“Ultimately, we know what has got us out of those positions, grinding that clean sheet out away from home knowing you will create chances.
“We have to get back to that.
“At this stage, yeah, you do look [at the league table].
“It is not as if you are one or two games into the league.
“The league table doesn’t lie.
“We have to do something about it quickly.”
Sunderland travel to West Ham United next and the club captain says they have to get back to doing the basics better; keeping that elusive clean sheet, fighting for second balls and creating more chances.
“Every game we go into we have to take something from it,” said O’Shea.
“We have to give ourselves the best chance as a unit, the team, keeping a clean sheet and fighting better for the second balls and winning those second balls.
“They are so important in the Premier League because of the quality of the players.
“If you are getting on the ball more in attacking positions, you have quality players to create something for you. We haven’t been doing enough of that.
“As a unit, we haven’t been able to get a consistency into the team either. That is very important.
“You have seen when we have gone on good runs there has been a consistent team selection. Injuries have gone against us recently, but the boys are working hard to get back.
“The players that we have out, you are possibly talking five, six, seven starters.
“Take that out of any Premier League team and it will have a massive impact.
“We have to train hard and hopefully it will turn for us.
“There are no hiding places in the Premier League.”
There is no doubt Sunderland’s injury list is having a huge impact on their season, with boss David Moyes unable to name a consistent line-up.
When asked whether the number of injured players is among the worst he has known, O’Shea added: “Possibly, in my time.
“We were well in control in the game, but we are giving ourselves too much to do.
“To go 2-0 down, you are really shooting yourself in the foot.
“If we can control that a lot better, you give yourself a much better chance of picking up points.”