LEE Cattermole insists relegation won’t be discussed in the Sunderland dressing room until the outcome of their home double-header.
Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Birmingham reduced the gap with the relegation zone to five points and dropped Sunderland down to 15th spot.
But if the Black Cats can end their three-month wait for victory against either Wigan or Fulham in their next two games, both at the Stadium of Light, then Sunderland would be largely free from relegation worries.
Cattermole (pictured) said: “We have two home games coming up and two wins would put us back in the top half. That has to be where we are looking.
“Perhaps if those games don’t go our way, then we may have to start looking the other way.
“We didn’t expect to be down in this situation, but we need to deal with it and get out of it as soon as possible.
“Perhaps it does feel that this has happened quite quickly.
“But we still haven’t talked about relegation. All we really want to do is put an end to this bad run.
“We’re not thinking about getting relegated, all we’re thinking about is winning games and trying to finish in the top half of the table.
“The lads aren’t deflated at all. They’re all looking forward to the challenge.
“We just need to finish the season off as well as we can, then look to go again next year.
“You can’t take big steps going from a club that has been a yo-yo team to being a team that qualifies for Europe, you need to build.
“If you look at Everton, they’re building and building and finally they are there.
“That’s what Sunderland have to aim to do.”
Radio phone-ins were again bombarded by angry Sunderland supporters on Saturday night and skipper Cattermole insists he understands the frustration.
But the 23-year-old believes the Wearsiders are almost a victim of their own success after holding down a top-six position at the turn of the year.
“We’ve only won one out of the last nine games, so I can understand why the fans are getting a bit nervous,” he added.
“They want to see us winning. I can’t say that we won’t get relegated, we still might.
“But we have to produce the goods to make sure that doesn’t happen and there is no better way to start than winning the two home games.
“It’s just a shame the way the season has gone for us now.
“People were talking about Europe, but then injuries and disruptions in January have made it hard for us.
“In a way, it shows just how far the club has come.
“The expectations have definitely been raised and that is something we have to deal with.”