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HIGHS AND A LOW

YOUNG Irishman Thomas Butler was personally satisfied with his full Sunderland debut at Charlton on Saturday, but shared the collective disappointment that the Black Cats couldn't hold on for victory.

And he admitted it's going to be a tense couple of weeks for Sunderland staff and fans alike as they wait for the final game of the season at home to Derby on May 11, knowing a point will keep them in the Premiership.

Butler helped Sunderland recover from going a goal down in the first minute by setting up Kevin Kilbane for an instant equaliser in an amazing opening at The Valley.

The winger produced a perfect pass into Kilbane's diagonal run from right to left and never stopped testing the Addick's defence throughout the game.

Butler said: "I was really pleased with my performance but of course we're all very disappointed we didn't hang on for the win.

"It was the worse possible start for us, but Kev Kilbane made a great run and finish to get us straight back into it and it was very important we got level so quickly.

"Then of course we went in front and they got lucky with the way the ball fell for them to equalise near the end, but that's the way it's been for us all season.

"We had chances to be further ahead. There were opportunities that would have been put in the net in the previous two seasons, but we're not doing it this time round.

"We had the three points in the bag with seven minuts left and if we'd hung on we were safe.

"I'm sure we'll come through this but we wouldn't have wanted it to go to the last game.

"It is going to be a nervous time now. Obviously, we want to do it for the fans because they deserve a lot after watching a season that hasn't gone well for us.

"But we know what we have to do to get ourselves out of it."

In all honesty, Charlton deserved a point and Sunderland had Thomas Sorensen to thank for the fact they stayed ahead so long.

It was no surprise to Butler that Charlton came out all guns blazing, despite the fact there was nothing hanging on the game for them.

He added: "There were spells in the game when they had a lot of pressure, but that's the way it goes in most games and you would expect the home side to push hard.

"I think we did well to hold on as long as we did and it's a credit to our defence that we stayed in front so long."

Butler's impressive starting debut at Charlton means he has played his way out of the Republic of Ireland Under-20 squad for the Toulon Tournament which starts next Monday.

The midfielder was due to join clubmate Cliffy Byrne in the Republic of Ireland squad to travel to France, but after shining at Charlton he is wanted by Peter Reid for the final Premiership match against Derby.

Butler said: "I was delighted to be included in the squad for Toulon, but if the manager wants me here then great."

On-loan striker Patrick Mboma, meanwhile, has been told he cannot join Cameroon's World Cup squad until after Sunderland's final game. He was due to link up with the 23-man party on May 9 - two days before Derby's visit.