SAFC 10 YEARS AGO: Hysen wants automatic promotion

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting on Sunderland 10 years ago today.

HYSEN SIGHTS ON TOP TWO

Sunderland will not be content with the play-offs – if they get there, insists Toby Hysen.

The Black Cats have crept to within a point of the promotion picture with a run of seven wins in their last 11 games.

A trip to fellow play-off hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday is next for Roy Keane’s men on Saturday, and it is an automatic promotion slot that Swede Hysen dreams of.

He said: “When we started climbing the league, we were probably ten points away from the play-offs.

“But in the space of about 15 games we’ve closed that gap to one point and we are desperate to make the next step.

“The top two are ten points ahead of us now and we have to set out sights high.

“There are plenty of games left for us to get the points we need so I’m not thinking that our goal is just the play-offs.”

Championship leaders Birmingham saw Derby pull level on 53 points on Saturday. The Rams grabbed a 90th-minute winner at home to Sheffield Wednesday, while Birmingham’s home game with Leeds was postponed because the Blues’ new pitch was not safe.

Hysen said: “There is usually one team that is cruising at the top of the table. It’s close between Birmingham and Derby, but I think Birmingham might have the strength in depth to win the division.

“If one team gets clear at the top and gets a run of wins, that can help those chasing from behind.

“It will be tough to get into the top two because there are some strong teams ahead of us.

“The run we’ve had will put other teams on their guard, but we’re confident in the ability we have in the squad.”

Hysen has started the last three games, but found it tough going in Saturday’s windswept home win over Ipswich Town and is hoping boss Keane keeps faith in him at Hillsborough.

“After dropping back to the fringe of things for a little while, I feel like I’ve pushed myself back in there,” said the 24-year-old winger, a £1.7million signing from Sweedish club Djurgaardens in August,

“As a team, we have not played as well as we feel we can, and from a personal point of view I feel there is more to come from me.

“This weekend’s game is a big one for us against a team that is not far behind us in the league.

“Sheffield Wednesday will feel they can get into the play-offs so they will want maximum points from their home games. This is an important game for the clubs.”