CARLOS Cuellar says tomorrow’s opponents Queens Park Rangers are a far better side than their league placing suggests.
And he warns that if Sunderland think the game offers a chance of an easy three points, they’ll end up with none.
“You cannot believe QPR are bottom of the table with the players they have in their team and the way they are going right now,” the former Aston Villa defender told the Echo.
“If we go there thinking they are not very good because they are bottom of the table, we are going to have a big surprise – they have top quality players and they have started to do very well.
“They are scoring goals now and they have signed new players and they could quite easily have a strong end to the season. I have watched them and they are quick, they pass it well and they have a chance to stay up.
“Their recent results have been pretty good and that’s something we have to be very much aware of when we go there this weekend.”
The 31-year-old has had brushes with relegation battles before in his career, both with Villa last season and with Spanish side Osasuna previously and knows first-hand that it is difficult when sides go on barren runs and lose self-belief.
But Cuellar says that is not the case with Sunderland – despite the Black Cats taking only two points from their last 15.
“It is tough when you are in a relegation battle because sometimes the players think they are no good when that is simply not true,” he said.
“If results don’t go for you, then those good players are playing in pressure situations every time. It can very easily affect you.
“But the good thing about Sunderland is that I don’t think we have that problem.
“You saw that when we went 2-0 down to Fulham last weekend and had the confidence and belief to keep going and get back to 2-2.
“We might even have won that game at the end.
“We were looking to win it in the closing stages, as we were with Arsenal in our previous home game because we have confidence in going for a win at the end of games, not just holding on.
“Our last two away games, against Reading and West Brom, we could also easily have won on a different day.
“I think that all the way through the team confidence is still good.
“We will not under-estimate QPR because we know how important this game is to them but it is important to us too and we go there looking to get a good result.”
Cuellar is now fully recovered from his hamstring tear early in the New Year and has been on the bench for the last three games.
“I’m fit again now,” he told the Echo. “I’m ready to play whenever the manager wants me.”