GUS POYET believes Sunderland’s victory at Chelsea has proved the commitment of those facing uncertain futures at the Stadium of Light.
Five of the starting line-up at Stamford Bridge last weekend are not contracted to Sunderland beyond the end of the season.
The deals of Jack Colback and Seb Larsson will expire, while Santiago Vergini, Marcos Alonso and Fabio Borini are only on loan until the summer.
Even if Sunderland complete what would be a remarkable escape from the threat of relegation, there are no guarantees that any of those five players will still be at the club, with a huge rebuilding job on the cards.
But head coach Poyet says Sunderland’s first Premier League victory in two-and-a-half months shows all of those on the books are eager to keep the club in the top flight.
“The players deserve all the credit for fighting,” he said.
“We’ve got plenty of players without contracts, but they went on the pitch and gave everything.
“There is no doubts, no rumours, there is nothing wrong.
“We are all together in this and we are going to go until the end.”
All five players made a contribution at Chelsea, with Fabio Borini netting the match-winning penalty, while Colback and Larsson worked tirelessly in midfield.
But full-backs Vergini and Alonso, along with centre-halves John O’Shea and Wes Brown, were key to victory as part of a dogged defensive display from Poyet’s men.
After seeing Sunderland ship 14 goals in their previous six games, that contribution from the back four was particularly impressive for Poyet.
“I was seeing the back four very strong – strong in the air, in the right places, blocking shots and fighting for their lives,” he added.
“Then if the opposition do something special, you can do nothing about it.
“It was up to us to be there and we all were.
“Santi again as a right-back, John and Wes fighting for everything and Marcos – who had a difficult day with (Mohamed) Salah and (Branislav) Ivanovic coming forwards – doing his job.
“We couldn’t ask for more.
“The belief was always there.”