Jack Rodwell admits it is always a “special” occasion to play against Everton – the team where it all began for him.
But he will put all sentiment to one side tonight when Sunderland host Ronald Koeman’s in-form Everton at the Stadium of Light (kick-off 8pm).
And Rodwell believes the Toffees are beatable – with Sunderland going in search of their first Premier League win of the season.
Last season, it took the Black Cats until the end of October to achieve their first three points of the campaign – something 25-year-old Rodwell is keen to avoid a repeat of.
“It would be a weight off our shoulders to get the win,” Rodwell told the Echo.
“Everton are in great form and they are a great side – there is no denying that.
“But if we can beat them, then it will give us an even bigger boost to confidence.
“I believe we have the players to beat them; we are at home, a night game and the atmosphere will be electric at the Stadium of Light.
“They are beatable.
“Get four points on the board and you are looking at mid-table with great confidence behind you.
“It is good to get that early win.”
There are strong links between the two sides after the appointment of David Moyes and the arrival of free agents Victor Anichebe and Steven Pienaar – both former Everton players.
Moyes spent 11 years in charge at Goodison Park, handing 16-year-old Rodwell his debut after the Southport-born midfielder had risen through the youth ranks.
Rodwell left Everton – after 109 appearances and eight goals – in the summer of 2012, joining Manchester City for £12million.
He has struggled to reach the same heights since joining Sunderland for £10million two years ago but he has been a regular since Moyes took charge and his form has improved.
Ahead of tonight’s game, Rodwell admits matches against his former club will always be a special occasion.
“It is a fixture I always look forward to and I am sure the manager will too,” added Rodwell.
“We have a few more links now too at the club with the summer signings, with Steven Pienaar and Victor Anichebe.
“For a few of us, it is a special fixture.
“The most important thing is the three points, it doesn’t matter how we do it.
“That is what we are focused on.”