JACK COLBACK has refused to blame fatigue for back-to-back Premier League defeats, although the midfielder admits Sunderland’s slim squad needs a boost.
A jaded Sunderland slumped to their joint heaviest loss of the season last night as a Luis Suarez double helped Liverpool coast to a 3-0 victory over Martin O’Neill’s men.
O’Neill is eager to add to Sunderland’s numbers during the January transfer window, with the size of the Black Cats squad evident by nine players starting each of the four festive fixtures crammed inside 11 days.
Colback is one of them and concedes it has been “tough” over the Christmas period, yet the 23-year-old believes defensive lapses, rather than tired legs, were to blame for the loss at Anfield which kept Sunderland four points above the relegation zone.
“It would be just an excuse to say it was Christmas catching up on us,” said Colback. “It’s the same for everyone with the amount of games.
“I’m sure every team is looking to strengthen in January. When you’ve got a small squad, it’s tough.
“But it’s part and parcel of football.
“We gave them two goals last night and then it’s an uphill battle.
“It was a difficult night for us, but made harder by our own slackness.
“The three goals we gave away could have been easily prevented.
“If you give them an early boost like that with two early goals then they’re going to pass the ball around for fun and it’s going to be hard for you.”
Raheem Sterling and Suarez punished Sunderland lapses in the first half before the latter added a third seven minutes after the break to effectively kill the game off.
But after each of Liverpool’s first two goals, Sunderland spurned golden opportunities – James McClean dragging the ball wide from six yards before Matt Kilgallon saw his shot well saved by Pepe Reina.
“In the first half, we had chances,” added Colback.
“Apart from their goals, we had the two best chances of the game.
“At 1-0, if James stuck that one away, it could have been a different story. Even at 2-0, we had a couple of chances.
“We needed to come out second half and keep it tight and nick one. Then maybe they would have got nervous and we could have nicked another on.
“But it never happened. We conceded another and it was difficult then. They were keeping the ball for fun and we didn’t seem to get near them.”