Sunderland are proving they are good enough to extend their stay in the Premier League, insists Jordan Pickford.
Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Hull, Sunderland’s first on home soil this season, lifted them off the bottom and breathed fresh hope into the campaign.
Pickford recorded his first top-flight clean sheet in the process, thanks to another stunning display.
And the 22-year-old, relishing the challenge of added competition from fit-again Vito Mannone, says he is a “winner” and has vowed to keep on improving.
“I have always said we are not far away, we just needed to click as a team and get that first win,” said Pickford.
“Now we need to keep building and building. We have done it the last couple of years – once it clicks we are a good side.
“On paper, we are good enough to be in the Premier League and we believe we are good enough to stay here.
“It gives us such a lift being off the bottom.
“A couple of weeks ago, we were on two points, so it has been a good couple of weeks.”
Pickford produced three fine saves against Hull – including an acrobatic stop to deny Robert Snodgrass – to underline the quality which saw him called up to the senior England squad.
“Yes, massive relief at the final whistle, to get the first clean sheet was brilliant,” added Pickford.
“If you keep putting me in the net, I will keep getting better and better and I keep believing in myself that I will get better.
“I like added competition, it drives me to be even better and I am a winner at the end of the day.
“I just have to keep working hard.”
Victor Anichebe and Jermain Defoe were instrumental in the win, with Anichebe bagging a brace and Defoe netting his 150th Premier League goal.
Pickford added: “Hull probably played the best they could in the first half but couldn’t score – we weathered the storm then JD popped up with a great finish.
“It is a great achievement to reach the 150 goals, not many have done it so well done to him.
“Vic has come in and grafts – he gives 100 per cent and gets the fans going. When our fans are at their best, it is like an extra man for us on the pitch.
“Vic holds the ball up really well, he is a good outball and helps us defend set pieces too on the near post – he kept getting the first header.
“It is not just about his attacking play, it is his defensive work as well that is so important.”
A power failure five minutes into the second half led to a 10-minute suspension of play.
“It was different!” added Pickford.
“I was like ‘what the hell has gone on here!’ It was good, though, because the fans started chanting ‘get the rave on’, which is brilliant.
“All their phones were on, it got the fans going and it may have actually helped us.”
Next up for David Moyes and Co is a trip to Anfield on Saturday and Pickford says Sunderland can go to Liverpool with confidence.
He added: “We will go there with a strong game plan and hopefully get something.
“It will be a great experience, I will go there and give it my all and be the best that I can be.”