Billy Jones admits Saturday’s “tough” trip to Bournemouth is vital to Sunderland’s Premier League future.
The rejuvenated right-back returned to the Black Cats league starting XI in the 4-1 home defeat to Arsenal at the weekend.
The stress we are feeling comes from not winning games.
That late collapse cemented the unwanted record for the club as having the equal worst start for a team in the history of the Premier League.
It has left David Moyes’s team eight points from safety with the clash against the mid-table Cherries the final fixture before the final international break of 2016.
“I think every game before an international break is huge to be honest because it seems to a long time before you play again,” said Jones.
“Obviously you want to go into the break with a win which will bring us confidence and give us a good feeling at the training ground and around the club before the next game comes around.
“It’s going to be a tough game – Bournemouth are a really good team, obviously they have improved the squad again over the summer.
“They are very attack-minded at home it seems, but we know that if we can get a clean sheet we’ve got a great chance of winning.”
The 29-year-old believes a win at Dean Court, or the Vitality Stadium in new money, would provide the massive lift the Black Cats need in what is looking a grim battle for survival, to say the least.
Dr Jones explains the squad is feeling the strain, but prescribes a dose of hard graft.
“The stress we are feeling comes from not winning games,” said the defender who came in for Javier Manquillo.
“The only way we can attend to that is by winning a match as soon as possible.
“When you are winning games your confidence is high, everything seems to come off and you make your passes, angles, everything.
“And if the opposition have a shot you make a great block or there’s a brilliant save.
“I think it’s about us sticking together, working hard for each other, if we win those one v one battle we can relieve the stress by winning matches.
“Everyone’s got to be putting in the graft, first and foremost, and we need to cut out the individual mistakes.
“But the main thing we need, and I know it’s an old cliche, is hard work.
“When we’ve had success it’s been through hard work, a strong mentality and everyone being in it together, showing resilience.”
The return of the former West Brom man has been a key decision from Moyes who wants players with experience throughout his starting XI.
Jones hopes he, and the other wise heads, can be a calming influence in what is the most testing of situations.
“We’ve been trying to pass on that experience, saying to the guys ‘you might not be having the best day technically, passing, creativity, but you have to work hard, win your one v one battles’.
“If we can do that more often than not you will get a positive result.”