Sunderland star eyes Villa boost

RALLYING CALL ... Sunderland's Kieran Richardson.
RALLYING CALL ... Sunderland's Kieran Richardson.
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KIERAN Richardson insists Sunderland will have their campaign back on track if they can record back-to-back wins against Aston Villa tomorrow.

Steve Bruce’s side have averaged just a point a game from their opening nine matches, yet victory at the Stadium of Light this weekend would match their tally from the same stage of last season.

Richardson accepts Sunderland have blown their fair share of opportunities this year by failing to beat Swansea and West Brom and sustaining damaging defeats against Norwich and Newcastle.

But the 27-year-old knows successive victories for the first time since January’s win at Villa Park would at least ensure Sunderland were on course to match last season’s first top-10 finish in a decade.

Richardson told the Echo: “We’d like to have done better against certain teams, but it wasn’t to be.

“If we win tomorrow though, we will have 12 points from the first 10 games and that’s the same record as we had at this stage last season, when we ended up finishing 10th.

“That’s a big motivation for us this weekend, along with the chance to complete back-to-back wins.

“I’ve been here quite a long time and that (back-to-back wins) hasn’t happened very often!

“It would be fantastic for us if we could follow our victory at Bolton with another against Villa.

“Villa have had a couple of bad results against Man City and West Brom in their last two games, so this is a good time for us to play them.”

Richardson expects a feisty atmosphere at the Stadium of Light, with the return of former striker Darren Bent for the first time since January’s £24million move to Villa.

Full story in tonight’s Echo.