Sunderland’s Mignolet: No break from drop fears

Steven Fletcher misses out against Norwich City.
Steven Fletcher misses out against Norwich City.
Have your say

SIMON Mignolet says there will be no break from Sunderland’s relegation worries for the club’s internationals.

Mignolet is one of 10 Black Cats players heading away for crucial World Cup qualifiers in the fortnight’s break from the Premier League after signing off from domestic action on an ominous note.

Sunderland’s inability to beat 10-man Norwich at the Stadium of Light yesterday extended their winless run to seven games, hours before Wigan’s last-minute winner against Newcastle reduced the buffer with the drop zone to four points.

While Mignolet hopes the distraction from the Premier League proves to be beneficial, the Belgian admits Sunderland’s internationals will still be fretting over their league position before they resume their basement battle against league leaders Manchester United on Saturday-week.

Mignolet said: “It’s a change of scenery, but it doesn’t mean you switch off.

“A couple of the lads are away with the national teams over the next few weeks and then we’ve got six or seven weeks until the end of the season when we have to make sure we get the points we want.

“’ll go away with Belgium for two very important games. My main focus will obviously be on that.

“But we have to make sure that when we come back for the game against United, we’re ready for that one.”

The visit of United is the start of a daunting run of fixtures which sees Martin O’Neill’s side face Chelsea, Newcastle and bogey team Everton.

And that has made a return of just two points from an inviting three games against Fulham, bottom club QPR and Norwich, all the more galling.

“Before the three games, we were hoping to get more out of it,” said Mignolet. “That’s normal.

“There’s still a lot of points to play for and we have to look forward to that, not on what’s over our shoulder.

“I know immediately after a game it’s difficult to do that. But there’s a great game against United coming up to give our season a lift again.

“The longer it goes on without the results you want, then obviously confidence in the team is going to drop. That’s only logical.

“But we’re professional footballers. We have to look at our own performances and make sure we get the points we want.

“There’s enough in the dressing room to get the points we need.”

After Wes Hoolahan headed Norwich into the lead yesterday, Sunderland benefited from two major decisions before the interval – Canaries keeper Mark Bunn dismissed for handball outside the area before Sebastien Bassong was penalised for handball inside the box.

But after Craig Gardner’s eighth of the season leveled proceedings, Sunderland were unable to find a breakthrough during an ineffectual second half display.

Mignolet added: “We’re disappointed because we had a great chance to get three points and unfortunately we didn’t manage that.

“We got back into the game after the red card and a goal from Gards. We had to push on in the second half then, but we didn’t get enough chances to get the win we wanted.

“Norwich got two lines of four in front of us and you have to break them down. That’s not easy.

“Obviously, we hoped we’d managed to do that, but we didn’t create enough chances in the second half.”