MARTIN O’Neill has challenged his Sunderland players to follow the example of Danny Rose and banish the fear factor.
On-loan Spurs left-back Rose was one of the few Sunderland players to emerge with any credit from Tuesday’s stalemate with winless basement boys QPR.
The England Under-21 international has shone since arriving at the Stadium of Light after being handed a regular run of first-team Premier League games for the first time in his career.
But the confidence evident in Rose is lacking among his team-mates, with Sunderland again tentative as an attacking unit at the Stadium of Light – a problem O’Neill says his players need to fight against.
The Sunderland boss said: “Danny is playing very strongly for us.
“He’s playing without any fear, which is good, and I think that the more players we can have doing that the better.
“The fear factor may come in probably due to confidence, and I’ve been there as a player myself so I know the feeling,
“It’s really important to get confidence, but it’s a brittle sort of thing because you can lose it quickly and it might take you a long time to gain it, but we have to fight through it.”
Although Sunderland headed into Tuesday’s game with two defeats from their previous three games, there had been an upturn in performances.
But O’Neill’s side took a backwards step, as their winless streak at home extended to five.
Sunderland have now tasted victory just once in their last eight Premier League outings, and O’Neill knows wins are the only remedy to his side’s troubles as they head to his former club Norwich City on Sunday.
“We had confidence from the win at Fulham and the match against Everton, so we had gone into the QPR game with some confidence,” he added.
“That might not have showed, but we wanted to win the game and it turned into a really frustrating evening.
“We were looking for that elusive goal, and I think the opening goal would have been enough, with the way things went.
“It’s just eking out that elusive victory.”