O'Shea urges Black Cats to control their own fate
Skipper John O'Shea has challenged Sunderland to keep their fate in their own hands by securing a fifth successive derby victory over Newcastle.
The Wear-Tyne rivals meet at the Stadium of Light on Sunday with Sunderland having won the last four meetings, but in grave need of three points to ease themselves away from the developing battle for Premier League survival.
O'Shea and his team-mates could find themselves inside the relegation zone by the time they run out if Burnley get the better of Tottenham in the day's earlier kick-off, and that would make three points a necessity.
The Republic of Ireland international said: "That's the big issue: whoever we were facing this weekend, be in Newcastle, be it Crystal Palace, be it Southampton, whoever the case may be, it's a case of getting the three points as soon as we can and getting everyone energised again and looking forward to the remaining games. "Look, we know we're not in the position that we'd like to be in, but we know we can get out of it. It's in our hands."
After a dreadful run of results against their arch-rivals, the Black Cats have fared rather well in recent times, winning the last three at St James' Park and the most recent game on Wearside. Asked what lay behind that run of results, O'Shea said: "Staying together as a unit, keeping the team spirit strong, working as a unit all over the pitch and taking chances.
"Making sure we got clean sheets and also whether it was early or late in the game, making sure we took chances. "They were the keys, and obviously having a strong squad as well because there were a couple of times where there were changes in the line-up before games. "Everyone has got to be mentally prepared to start the game, and obviously anything can happen then in the 90 minutes."