Sunderland's confidence sky high with Patrick van Aanholt among those reaping reward, says Sam Allardyce

Sunderland confidence "sky-high" after Stoke City win
Sunderland confidence "sky-high" after Stoke City win
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Back-to-back wins, consecutive clean sheets and out of the bottom three for the first time this season.

The past week has been an overwhelmingly positive one for Sam Allardyce and his Sunderland squad with the Black Cats boss admitting confidence levels among the players are sky high.

The 2-0 win over Stoke City at the Stadium of Light followed the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, victories that lifted Sunderland out of the bottom three.

Patrick van Aanholt's stunning strike from 20-yards opened the scoring in the 82nd minute, with Duncan Watmore doubling the lead two minutes later.

The Dutchman - who has struggled this season - has impressed at left wing-back this week and Allardyce was quick to highlight his good form.

"Patrick is listening to what we are trying to say, as a staff," added Allardyce.

"His performances show wing back suits him.

"He has to play in a back four too and did late on as we put another forward on.

"He did the defensive side as well as the attacking side and that is what we want.

"Young DeAndre Yedlin too, he has never played in the Premier League before, but has done a terrific job for us too against a Stoke side that had won three out of the last four away from home and hadn't conceded.

"It was always going to be difficult, we came out on top."

Allardyce, who has masterminded three wins out of six games since taking charge, has been impressed with the application shown by his players since taking charge.

And he has called on Sunderland to keep progressing and picking up vital wins, to avoid another dramatic end to a Premier League season.

"Apart from Everton away we have been going in the right direction and are now picking up wins," added Allardyce.

"That has come from clean sheets.

"We have goals in our team and Duncan has proven we have another one now, Steven Fletcher and Jermain Defoe plus Fabio Borini too - he is miserable as he can't get in the team.

"Jeremain Lens too, he wants to be in the team, so competition for places is healthy.

"We won't get carried away but it has been a fantastic week and the results have lifted everyone's confidence.

"We have to try and improve on what we have done from now until the end of the season.

"We still have a huge amount of work to do. We have 12 from 16 games, that is a really difficult position still.

"It is still relegation points-per-game played.

"We have to continue to lessen that gap, the quicker the better and winning three out of the first six takes us to where we want to be going.

"I don't want to have to win a huge amount of games in the last six or eight matches.

"Let's do it as quick as we can."