Billy Jones says Sunderland must be at their top of the game at both ends of the park against Burnley.
The Black Cats visit Turf Moor on Saturday for the proverbial six-pointer.
Given the lads we have up there, if we give them the opportunities they will take themBILLY JONES
David Moyes’s side go into the last match of the year six points behind their hosts.
But a victory would not only close the gap on the Clarets to three points but guarantee Sunderland will end 2016 outside the relegation zone – a remarkable achievement given the side spent so long this season on only two points.
Jones, who made an excellent return to the defence at Man United, believes the side can get a result – despite Burnley’s powerful home form.
While Sunderland lost 3-1 to the Red Devils on Monday, the defender said the overall performance has strengthened the team’s belief, especially with Fabio Borini now joining Jermain Defoe and Victor Anichebe on the goal trail.
“It’s disappointing we have done well, overall, again against one of the big teams only to get nothing from it,” said Jones. “That means the game against Burnley is even more important now.
“Obviously we’ve got to produce all the positives we showed [at Old Trafford] but be more clinical when we have the positions in the final third and within that final third create more opportunities.
“Given the lads we have up there, if we give them the opportunities they will take them.
“Obviously we’ll have to keep it tight at the back but if we can go there, despite their strong home form, keep a clean sheet it will give ourselves a right good chance of winning the game.”
After recovering from a hip injury, which ruled him out of the win over Watford, Jones earned an immediate recall with Donald Love stepping down to the bench, the 29-year-old’s display vindicating Moyes’s choice.
“It’s a massive positive to have been brought straight back in considering the lads had won against Watford,” he said in an interview on www.safc.com.
“It was nice to be given the nod but it shows how well Donald did that we have strength in depth and there are choices in the squad for when the boys go away for the Africa Cup of Nations.”
Jones hopes the Black Cats can build on their play at Old Trafford.
“We spoke beforehand about not giving United any easy goals but that’s what we did with their second and third goals with bad passes in the centre of the park to set them on their way,” he said. “That was disappointing.
“But there are positives we can take into a massive game like Burnley.”