SUNDERLAND legend Kevin Phillips is convinced there will be no late hiccup in Sunderland’s bid to win their season-long battle against relegation.
The Wearsiders take on another of Phillips’ former clubs, West Bromwich Albion, at the Stadium of Light this evening needing just one more point to make them all but mathematically safe,
And that would mark a stunning turnaround from what looked a near impossible survival mission for the club less than a month ago.
Sunderland have two bites of the cherry – facing West Brom this Wednesday and Swansea City this Sunday – while third-bottom Norwich have just one match remaining, when they host Arsenal on the last day of the season.
Phillips though says he can’t envisage Sunderland letting it slip at this late stage.
“The recent results have been amazing and the club has fantastic momentum in its favour now, which is usually a crucial factor at this stage of the season,” he said.
“All the players will be looking forward to the matches and it’s in their hands now - get one more point and it really will have been a great escape.
“Three or four weeks ago, like pretty much everyone else if they are honest, I have to say I didn’t give them a hope of staying up.
“I don’t know what has happened since – maybe they have had a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality or something – but they have gone on an unbelievable run, getting a draw at Man City and then winning at Chelsea and Man U.
“Credit to the players and the manager, I’m delighted for them.
“I’m pretty sure that they’ll get the point they need over the next two games - and, with West Brom safe, I’d like to see Sunderland get it tonight rather than take it to the last day against Swansea.”
Phillips, Sunderland’s post-war record goalscorer, left Wearside more than a decade ago after six goal-laden years at the Stadium of Light.
And since then his career has taken in successful spells at Southampton, Aston Villa, West Brom, Birmingham, Blackpool, Crystal Palace and lastly, Leicester City.
But with his last act on the pitch being to help the Foxes win promotion back to the Premier League this season, he had finally decided to hang up his boots at the age of 40.
“It’s been a great innings,” said Phillips, who wore the red and white shirt again for Jody Craddock’s testimonial at Wolves on Monday.
“People keep asking me why I’ve retired – I think they forget I’m 41 in a couple of months!.
“I know I’ve done the right thing though.
“It was the right time, having helped Leicester to promotion and having the chance of a coaching role there in the Premier League in the future.
“But Sunderland was where I made my name and the club I’ll always be most associated with.
“I had six wonderful years there and the club and its fans are just unbelievable.
”I’d love to see them get the result tonight which keeps them in the Premier League next season but whether it comes tonight or at the weekend, I feel sure now that they’ll stay up.”