BILLY JONES believes Sunderland have to aim to secure their six-point survival target within the next three games.
Sunderland have won just twice in the last 16 Premier League outings, yet are facing a situation where they probably need to take maximum points from at least two of the remaining five fixtures of this season if they are to remain in the top flight.
We’re at a stage in the season where we need to produce our best run of formBilly Jones
Head coach Dick Advocaat admitted last weekend that Sunderland need to add another six points to their tally if he is to fulfil his remit of keeping the club in the Premier League after the Black Cats fell into the relegation zone for only the second time this season.
And right-back Jones says, realistically, Sunderland have to be looking at putting those points on the board prior to the trips to Arsenal and Chelsea during the last week of the season – starting with this Saturday’s visit of Southampton.
“I would like to get six points going into the last two games,” said Jones.
“That would be our aim, to get those six points as soon as possible and see where that takes us and where we are at that point.
“If we win the next game, the whole mood changes again.
“If it’s not to happen this Saturday, you’ve got to pick yourself back up again and try to do it in the remaining four.
“But we go into this game knowing that a win would massively help our cause.”
On paper, Sunderland’s plight is growing increasingly ominous, with the Black Cats facing a daunting fixture list and Hull, Aston Villa and Leicester – the three teams immediately above them - finding form at the right time.
And Jones knows Sunderland will have to prove plenty of people wrong if they are to successfully evade the drop for the third year on the spin.
“We know the position we’re in and we can’t depend on other teams,” added the former West Brom man. “We just have to look forward to the next game and hope we can get a positive result against Southampton.
“We’ve obviously got five massive games and people outside the club looking at our remaining fixtures would mostly say we have to get something from one of our away games.
“But with Hull winning in midweek, nothing has really changed.
“We still know Southampton is a game we really need to win.
“We’re at a stage in the season where we need to produce our best run of form.
“Other teams have been doing that around us, so we need to do it as well to give ourselves a chance.”