After a promising start to the season for Sunderland, including three goals in the opening two games, on-loan Lewis Grabban’s injury came at the worst possible time.
Picked to lead the line against Nottingham Forest on September 12, Grabban showed that his presence in the side could encourage team-mates to play with the ball on the floor and with purpose.
Without him, the Black Cats were left short of bodies and quality up front.
His return against QPR, at the weekend, came at a time when momentum has all but disappeared after that bright start, but the Bournemouth loanee hopes to draw on his experiences at the South Coast club.
“Most of my career has been in teams that have been challenging for promotion, but there is one time when I was in the relegation zone,” said the 29-year-old.
“It was only for a short time, and it was just after I joined Bournemouth in League One.
“It was a similar situation – we were in the bottom three after 11 or 12 games – but then we ended up going on a massive run, we didn’t lose for something like 22 games.
“By the end of that, we were second in the league, so that just shows it is possible to turn things around.
“It’s just getting to that tipping point where things change.
“I’m not worried about relegation or anything like that – I don’t think that’s going to be an issue – but to try to achieve the aim of promotion, we’re going to have to start very, very soon.”
Sunderland sit 23rd in the Championship table, with 12 matches played, and just one win on the board.
“You can’t say it’s [a false position]. We are where we are in the table,” added Grabban.
“Obviously, if we do the right things and play to our ability we shouldn’t be where we are, but so far we haven’t done that.”
The key at Bournemouth was a faith in the team’s approach, something which Sunderland know they need to find quickly now that manager Simon Grayson has almost a full squad to pick from.
The pressure at Sunderland may be far greater, but Grabban hopes he and his team-mates can use that as motivation to prove themselves.
Recalling his struggle with the Cherries, he said: “At that time, it was really just about cementing a style that we were going to play, week in, week out, and sticking to it.
“That was the key at Bournemouth.
“That’s what we did, and everyone knew their jobs.
“That kicked us on. It was similar to here – we had a good set of players there too, and the majority of them are still at the club in the Premier League. It is possible.
“When you’re at a big club where things have been going wrong for a while, that can make it harder to turn things around.
“But it really depends on the character of the individual.
“I think you should use that to boost yourself, and want to step up to the level that the club has been at in its history before.
“It should be a motivation.
“You should want to be proud to be at that level. Obviously, the club has dropped down a bit, but it’s a Premier League club in everything apart from its status at the moment.
“Everyone just has to step up to get it back there.”
With the gap to safety now a win away, Sunderland must start their revival against Brentford at Griffin Park on Saturday, but Grabban knows, in the long-term, that greater bravery at home is key.
He said: “Sometimes, when things aren’t going well, the hardest thing is to be positive and take a risk.
“But that’s when you need everyone to be brave enough to do that.
“In my opinion, as a footballer, it’s a minimum that you should want to be on the ball.
“It isn’t always as easy as that, but you can’t hide away from things.
“I think we do have to be a bit braver, especially at home.
“We have to be prepared to try things, and look to dominate the ball a bit more.
“If we do that, let’s see where it takes us.
“Working hard is the easiest thing, and that’s another minimum we have to do.
“But we have to be ready to try things and be positive when we’re in possession.
“If you’re giving the ball away, keep going.
“Don’t worry about trying the same thing again.”