SUNDERLAND have to keep the momentum building by striving for a third win on the spin at Swansea City this weekend, says Black Cats skipper John O’Shea.
Gus Poyet’s men claimed back-to-back victories for the first time this season in Tuesday night’s FA Cup fourth round replay at Fulham and now have the chance to put consecutive Premier League wins on the board in south Wales on Saturday.
Swansea, who lost top scorer Wilfried Bony to Manchester City last month, are without several key figures, with midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson suspended, ex-Middlesbrough man Marvin Emnes injured and flying winger Jefferson Montero a doubt.
And O’Shea has urged Sunderland to make the most of that opportunity and cap what has been an excellent week so far, with the Black Cats moving four points clear of the relegation zone and advancing into the fifth round of the cup.
“We have to take this into Swansea now,” said the centre-half.
“If we can get back-to-back wins in the league that will be huge.
“We saw Swansea’s win at Southampton (last weekend) and they put in a different performance to what they normally do and changed tactics a little bit.
“It will be interesting to see how they approach the game on Saturday, with being at home.”
Sunderland have injury worries of their own, albeit they should be boosted by the return of Adam Johnson this weekend after the winger underwent a minor operation on his thumb.
Connor Wickham is a major doubt after sustaining a calf problem in the warm-up at Fulham, Jack Rodwell missed the game through injury, while Emanuele Giaccherini limped off at the end.
However, with Ricky Alvarez shining in only his fourth Sunderland start and Danny Graham again making a positive impression from the bench, O’Shea believes the Black Cats’ fringe players are starting to make their mark.
“We don’t know how bad Connor’s injury is yet, so we’ll wait and see how that settles down,” said O’Shea.
“Connor felt something in the warm-up and I just saw him going in with the doctor.
“With so little time before Saturday, he will be a doubt. But to have Ricky coming in and showing that confidence, that will boost everyone.
“Danny did brilliantly for the penalty too. We adapted well and thankfully we coped.”
Victory over Fulham secured a fifth round trip to League One club Bradford on Sunday week, with Sunderland facing Football League opposition for the third cup game in a row.
But O’Shea is well aware of the threat posed by Bradford after the Bantams produced the shock of the fourth round, winning 4-2 at Chelsea.
The Republic of Ireland international added: “We know we’re not going down for an easy game. It’s very simple.
“If you go 2-0 up as well, you’re fully aware they’re capable of coming back.
“It’s a game to look forward to.
“We know one or two of their players – we’ve had Jordan Pickford on loan there, and young Billy Knott, who was here.
“Hopefully it will be a great occasion, but one we can come out on top in.”