Chris Coleman on Sunderland's Championship survival chances and why Joel Asoro didn't start against Millwall

Chris Coleman is braced for a 'bumpy' end to the season but he is adamant Sunderland have what it takes to survive.

Sunday, 4th March 2018, 1:26 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th March 2018, 1:35 pm
Sunderland duo Jason Steele and Adam Matthews at Millwall.

And he’s prepared to continue tinkering in a bid to pick up the points needed.

Sunderland remain bottom of the Championship after the 1-1 draw with Millwall, with Coleman making SIX changes.

The gap to safety reduced slightly to four points, the game one of only five to survive the weather with relegation rivals Barnsley and Burton having their games postponed.

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Coleman admits progress is slow for his Sunderland side, with the club picking up draws but not the vital wins needed to climb away from danger with only 11 games left.

But he remains confident in his players.

Coleman said: "From here to the end of the season, every game we’re going to play is like the last of the season.

"That’s where we are. I’m not putting extra pressure on the players but no matter who we’re playing, Millwall, Villa, whoever, we have to have that mentality because that’s where we are.

"It’s game by game. We’ve been in the bottom three for some weeks and it’s not a nice feeling. We need to by hook or by crook have that feeling of popping out of the bottom three, which would be a big boost for us.

"But we’ve got to get it, we’ve got to earn it and then hang onto it.

"We’re not even inching, it’s probably centimetres in the right direction at the minute, in the last three games anyway.

"We’ve got to hang onto it with both hands and each game that comes we’ve got to max out, whoever’s on the pitch, whatever formation, we’ve got to have our mentality right, attack it and try and get the three points.

"We’re still only four points from getting out of it. If it was ten, that might be different.

"With each week that passes it’s tougher but we’ve got to look at it and say we’ve gained a point on some of the teams around us. There’s still 11 games, 33 points and we’re four from getting out of it.

"There’s a lot to be said between now and the end of the season – it’s going to be bumpy, it’s going to be uncomfortable but it’s there, it’s do-able."

Coleman, without the suspended Jake Clarke-Salter and injured Paddy McNair, made widespread changes with Jason Steele, Ty Browning, Aiden McGeady, Callum McManaman, Ashley Fletcher and Ovie Ejaria recalled.

Coleman added: "McGeady and McManaman have done very well in the last couple of games so we thought they were worth a try and we changed the formation a little bit.

"Probably between now and the end of the season don’t be too surprised if the team changes a lot because we’ve got to look at the opposition to see where we can hurt them.

"Joel Asoro was injured against Middlesbrough. He finished the game but he got a whack and he’s only trained once since. And he’s only 18, we can’t keep relying on him week in, week out.

"He came on as a sub, maybe if he was fully fit he might have started but I couldn’t risk him because we play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday."