BOLO Zenden believes Sunderland can still overhaul Bolton in the Premier League’s home straight after beating the Wanderers at the weekend.
And he insists the Black Cats must hungrily pursue the top-10 finish that was their target all along in the remaining two games of the season.
“We can still do it,” he said. “The win over Bolton makes a difference – we are still only two points behind them with a couple of games left.
“It will be difficult I know, but we need to see if we can get into the top 10.
“The three points against Bolton makes everything nicer, but one of the goals we set ourselves at the start of the season was finishing in the top 10 and that’s what we’re still going for.
“It has been a strange sort of season for us, but injuries have hit us badly.
“We only had 12 first-team players on Friday – so it was easy for the gaffer to pick his team – and that’s the way it has been over the last few months.
“A few months ago we were talking about the top eight and then recently we’ve been looking over our shoulders because we’ve been on a very bad run, but now we need to go for that top 10.”
Zenden scored one and helped set up the second for strikerless Sunderland against Bolton and will now expect to keep his place in the starting line-up against Wolves this coming Saturday and away to West Ham on the final day of the season.
If he is heavily involved in both matches it might help persuade the out-of-contract 34-year-old to stay with Sunderland another year.
No contract talks have yet been entered into but, for Zenden, more minutes on the pitch are essential if he is to extend his time at the Stadium of Light beyond this month.
“I hope I’ve shown I can still play at this level,” he said.
“I don’t get many games and it has not been easy, but I got my opportunity and scored and to get 90 minutes is really pleasing for me.
“I’ve spoken to people and I feel I’m important for the club but it’s not just that.
“I want to be important for the team as well.
“Being out there, I realise this is what makes me happy. You can train as much as you want, but what you need is games to keep yourself going.
“I think I can continue playing.
“I’m only 34, I’ve seen players carry on so much longer so why can’t I? I’ve always lived for my sport, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke so I can get the benefits at the end of my career.
“For me, the most important thing is to play games.
“At 34, it’s easier to be playing at least once a week to keep you ticking. But if that doesn’t happen, it makes it harder to keep up.
“I’d like to stay in England if I can, but I’ve always been open to any opportunity.
“I’ve played eight years in the Premier League and my goal against Bolton means I’ve scored every season I’ve played here, so I was pleased with that.”
H Sunderland have not agreed a permanent move with John Mensah, despite claims over the weekend.
The club has yet to make a decision on the future of the injury-prone Ghanaian who has been on loan to the Stadium of Light for the past two seasons.
But it is believed that parent club Lyon ARE ready to cut their losses on the player they originally signed for £8m and will offer him to Sunderland permanently this summer in a cut-price £1m deal.