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O'Neill eager to pick up points

Martin O'Neill has ordered Sunderland to forget about the points which have slipped from their grasp and concentrate on those they need to avoid relegation.

The Black Cats have collected only three of the last 21 Premier League points they have contested and firmly believe the quality of some of the performances during that run warranted a healthier return.

However, the manager knows there is little mileage in ifs, buts and might-have-beens and with Chelsea, Newcastle and Everton waiting in the wings after Manchester United's visit to the Stadium of Light today, the time has come for the talking to stop.

O'Neill, whose side could only draw at home to Norwich a fortnight ago despite playing for more than an hour against 10 men, said: "At some stage, you have to actually talk about points on the board. It's all very well saying for a couple of weeks now we should have picked up a point here, we should have done this and that.

"Within a couple of weeks, that's gone, people forget about it and don't want to talk about it anymore.

"Our recent performance here at the Stadium of Light really wasn't up to what we should have been capable of doing. Particularly against 10 men, it was really disappointing.

"We have got to get that out of the system and really go for it."

That would represent a bold approach today with United 15 points clear at the top of the table and Sunderland still holding a four-point advantage, but one which is fast evaporating, over the bottom three.