Sunderland AFC news: Allardyce to tinker, Mannone's Newcastle warning, midfielder faces uncertain future

Vito Mannone has a message to Newcastle United
Vito Mannone has a message to Newcastle United
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Sunderland's No 1 Vito Mannone has a message for relegation rivals Newcastle United: We are in pole position to stay up.

Sunderland dropped back into the bottom three despite the late point at Stoke City on Saturday, with Newcastle climbing above them after their win over Crystal Palace at St James's Park.

The two North East clubs are battling with Norwich City to stay in the Premier League heading into the final week of the 2015-16 campaign.

Mannone said: “We have been playing well for a while now, and have been solid. It’s just a shame that we didn’t gain enough points when we played Southampton, Newcastle and West Brom.

"That is a small shame, but we are still in it and it’s still in our own hands. It is down to us now."

Solid at the back, Sunderland have become hard to beat. But they must start turning draws into wins quickly.

Mannone said: "That is what we have to do. That is what the manager is asking for, although it is a tough task. It will be difficult, but every game we go into at the moment, we are thinking, ‘I have to keep a clean sheet’.

"If it happens like it did against Arsenal, I will go home happy that we have managed to do it. We did a good job in that direction, and it’s true what he keeps saying – a clean sheet keeps you up.

"The manager knows what to do because he’s been in the Premier League for 20-odd years. We’ve been working on defending properly a lot, and on doing the basics right," he told the Northern Echo.

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The Yorkshire Post are reporting uncertainty over the future of Leeds United head coach Steve Evans is likely to leave Liam Bridcutt in limbo.

Bridcutt returns to Sunderland at the end of the campaign, having been praised by Evans for keeping them out of Championship relegation trouble.

Evans would like to sign Bridcutt - who arrived at Elland Road on loan in November - on a permanent basis but his own position has not been sorted.

Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce has vowed to make changes in the final three games of the season.

Sunderland have named an unchanged side for the past five Premier League games ahead of home matches with Chelsea and Everton and the away game at Watford on the final day of the season.

"We’ll probably change the side more in these three games than we have done since the turn of the year," said Allardyce.

"Since the players have all been fit, then some have been frustrated.

"I changed the team every week when I first got here, and nobody knew who we were playing, where they were playing and when they were playing on the basis that we were rubbish."

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And finally, Big Sam says his Sunderland side must be above Newcastle United in the Premier League by the time they head to Watford on the final day.

He told the Echo: "By the time the last game comes around, we have to be above Newcastle, even if it’s only goal difference."