MIDFIELDER Jack Colback says Sunderland are confident they can replicate last season’s pivotal victory at Loftus Road by bringing an immediate halt to QPR’s resurgence this weekend.
Sunderland’s 3-2 victory over Rangers last December proved to be a turning point in the campaign for the Black Cats.
A first away success under Martin O’Neill ensured Sunderland leapfrogged QPR, moved three points clear of the relegation zone, and sparked a run of six wins in eight Premier League outings.
But Saturday’s clash holds similar magnitude for both clubs.
QPR sniff the start of a miraculous escape from the confines of the relegation zone after securing just a third win of the season at Southampton last Saturday.
And Sunderland know a second successive victory at Loftus Road would prove a major step towards eradicating any lingering fears over being sucked into the relegation dogfight.
Colback, a substitute in the December 2011 success in West London, said: “QPR will be sensing they can get out of it now, and they’re not that far off safety.
“Their confidence will be up, but we went down there last year and got the win, so we’ll be confident we can do that again.
“It’s a crucial time, we need to start picking up points, and make sure we’re not looking over our shoulder.
“We’ve got far too much quality in the team to be even contemplating the bottom three.
“But we still need a few points to get away from the relegation zone.
“It’s always difficult when there’s that sort of atmosphere, but it’s part and parcel of football, and you’ve got to deal with it.”
Despite Sunderland’s five-game winless streak maintaining their drop worries, the Black Cats remain closer to the top half of the table than the bottom three.
Just three points separate Sunderland from 10th placed Stoke City, while O’Neill’s side can boast a six-point buffer from the relegation zone.
“Once we get a couple of wins on the bounce again, we’ll be fine,” added Colback.
“Wins are crucial, and that’s what breeds confidence, and helps you relax.
“We know we need to start turning draws and narrow defeats into wins.”