SUNDERLAND have to take charge of their own destiny and make home advantage count over the second half of the season, insists Billy Jones.
The Black Cats have reached a make-or-break stage of their campaign, with bottom-seven peers Burnley, QPR and West Brom visiting the Stadium of Light in three of the next four Premier League matches.
On the back of just one top-flight victory at home all season – and a draw against Championship side Fulham in the FA Cup on Saturday – Sunderland are in the midst of a miserable run on their own turf.
But right-back Jones believes that if Sunderland can achieve three points in this weekend’s visit of Sean Dyche’s Burnley, it could prove to be the catalyst for a dramatic upturn in their fortunes at the Stadium of Light.
Jones told the Echo: “It helps in the Premier League to have really good home form and that’s what we’re trying to achieve for the second half of the season.
“We’ve got games against teams who are there or thereabouts.
“We know if we’re have to a successful second half of the season, our home form needs to improve.
“Good runs are about momentum, so we hope to start a good one next week with a positive result against Burnley.
“Then the games come thick and fast, and a lot of big home games.
“We know it’s in our hands to have a better second half of the season with the home games we’ve got.”
Sunderland missed out on a much-needed confidence boost against Fulham after they again struggled to produce a sufficient attacking threat, albeit the hosts played the last 25 minutes with 10 men following the dismissal of Jack Rodwell.
“We got into good positions, but we’re talking again about quality in the final third,” said Jones.
“That final pass or cross has maybe let us down again.
“We’re disappointed not to get back to winning ways, which was the aim before the game.
“So, yes, we’re frustrated.
“When you put a good ball in, you just hope that whoever it is puts it away.
“But if players are in their positions and the quality is coming in, then goals will come.”
At least Sunderland avoided the fate of Premier League high-fliers Chelsea, Manchester City, Southampton and Spurs, who all suffered cup upsets on Saturday, while Liverpool were held to a goalless draw at Anfield by Championship club Bolton.
Sunderland will have the chance to progress in the replay at Craven Cottage in eight days time, with the fifth round draw taking place tonight.
“With a lot of the teams that went out on Saturday, they would have been on the list of favourites to win the cup,” added Jones.
“We know going into the replay that we have a chance to go far again in this competition, which is what everyone must be thinking for those clubs who have gone through.
“Hopefully we can progress as far as we can.
“But we’ve got to go to Fulham now, get a result and progress in the cup.”