Sunderland’s Giaccherini eyes Italy World Cup place

Emanuele Giaccherini scores the third goal
Emanuele Giaccherini scores the third goal
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SUPER SUB Emanuele Giaccherini hopes his impact on Sunderland’s survival bid can ensure he avoids World Cup heartache.

Giaccherini has played a significant role from the bench in helping Sunderland take seven points from their last three Premier League games.

The 28-year-old set up both goals in the 2-2 draw at Manchester City a fortnight ago and then netted for the fifth time in red and white in last Sunday’s 4-0 victory against Cardiff, before providing the assist for Connor Wickham’s second.

That form has provided a timely boost for Giaccherini, whose place in Italy’s World Cup squad has been brought into doubt after starting just one league game since New Year’s Day.

Giaccherini has been a regular in the Italy squad over the last couple of years, yet his lack of game time has prompted question marks over his place in Cesare Prandelli’s plans for the summer’s tournament in Brazil.

But the £6.8million summer signing is glad to have made a positive contribution during a remarkable turnaround in Sunderland’s fortunes; both for his own prospects and the club’s.

He said: “In the last two months, I haven’t played much. I don’t know why.

“But the last three games have been important both for me and the team.

“The team has to come first because we need to survive in the Premier League.

“But it’s good for me to do well, for the consequences it could have with me for the national team.

“I’m happy to contribute with a goal and for us to win.

“The other times I’ve scored in the Premier League, were one draw and two defeats.”

Victory over Cardiff moved Sunderland out of the drop zone for the first time since February, with two wins from the final three games now sufficient to keep the Black Cats in the Premier League, due to their superior goal difference over the bottom three.

Sunderland face a tough task to continue their upwards surge at Manchester United on Saturday, yet still boast a game in hand on their relegation rivals.

And Giaccherini is far from daunted at the prospect of the trip to Old Trafford; insisting he has sensed the change in the Sunderland camp since the draw at Man City.

“For me, our mentality changed at Man City,” added the former Juventus winger.

“That draw made us stronger mentally and from there, everything has changed.

“We need to continue like this in the next game at Manchester United.

“We will go there to win.

“We have good memories of going there from the League Cup, but we can’t think about that game.

“This is a different game. Manchester United have changed managers and they will be very difficult.

“It was very, very important to win against Cardiff because they are directly around us.

“Now we’ve got seven points from the last three games which is fantastic.

“We think we can stay up going into these final three games.”