KEIREN WESTWOOD believes Sunderland can shake the tag of being the “nearly men” by equating their efforts to points.
The Black Cats have not lost by more than one goal this season and can boast the fifth best defensive record in the Premier League.
Yet Sunderland find themselves just two points above the drop zone heading into Saturday’s visit of basement boys Wigan, with supporters showing their displeasure in last weekend’s stalemate with fellow strugglers Fulham.
Goalkeeper Westwood said: “We’ve only picked up two points from a possible nine, so we’ve not got a lot to show for a lot of hard work.
“We’ve done some good stuff over the last few games but not got the rewards.
“I don’t think it’s so much pressure on us, more frustration on everyone’s part because we obviously want to win.
“We understand the fans’ frustration, but it’s too early in the season to be talking about pressure and this, that and the other.
“I think we’ll pick up sooner or later. You can see with the performances and the way we’re set up – we’re very solid.
“It’s only a matter of time before the results turn and start going in our favour.
“I think people can see that we are close and we just need something to turn for us.
“Look at that deflected shot that (Mark) Schwarzer managed to save at the death last weekend. If that goes in, it could have kick-started the entire season.
“We’ve just got to keep plugging away.”
Westwood notched his first clean sheet in Sunderland colours against the Cottagers in his third top-flight appearance since his summer Bosman move from Coventry City.
The Republic of Ireland international has impressed since succeeding the injured Simon Mignolet, although admits he is playing behind a defence which is becoming increasingly resilient.
“I’ve worked really hard to get where I am and I’m not going to stop now I’ve reached one of my goals in life,” added the 27-year-old.
“As long as I keep going, I’m more than happy with the way it’s going.
“I’m just happy to be playing every week again.
“I think we’ve been very solid in all the games I’ve played really.
“But we’ve not been picking up points and come Saturday, we’ve got to pick up three.
“We were unlucky to concede at Man U in the way we did.
“Against Fulham, they only looked a threat when they hit us on the counter-attack at the end.
“Looking at the game overall, maybe we shaded it – we hit the bar twice and had a few chances. It would have just been nice to pick up three points.”