Billy Jones hopes Sunderland team will soon pick itself
Billy Jones hopes David Moyes will soon have the luxury of being able to name a settled Sunderland side.
The Black Cats boss has been forced to chop and change his team throughout his short reign on Wearside.
And the Scot must make one enforced alteration this weekend ahead of the bottom-of-the-table confrontation with Hull City.
Steven Pienaar will sit out the Stadium of Light clash after being sent off in the dramatic 2-1 win at Bournemouth last time out.
But Jones witnessed just how the Sunderland team almost picked itself during the amazing late-season 11-match run, a sequence that included just one defeat.
While the 29-year-old watched it from the bench – DeAndre Yedlin was in ‘his’ position – he recognises how vital consistent team selection can be for the Cats.
“It would be great for the manager to be able to name the same XI all the time,” he said. “Unfortunately, so far we’ve had a lot of injuries and it’s stopped the gaffer from doing that.
“We did it last season but I remember from even before then after I came to the club we went on a nice run and the team picked itself.
“Everyone in the side knew what they had to do and there was a good feeling and positive results come from that.
“I’m sure the gaffer doesn’t want to be changing the team all the time but has had to do so because of the injuries.”
Moyes will be hoping the players he has had away on international duty will have returned with no knocks or fatigue and then he can begin to seek continuity in selection and displays.
Sunderland, and Jones, both look revitalised.
The right-back missed the start of the campaign after a troublesome hip injury flared up in pre-season.
But the ex-West Brom defender regained his spot from on-loan Javier Manquillo and has started the last two games.
Jones was excellent at Bournemouth, where he formed a good alliance down the right side with Duncan Watmore.
The success over the Cherries, earned by goals from Victor Anichebe and Jermain Defoe lifted a “weight off our shoulders” and now Jones hopes they can kick on.
He added: “The main thing is when we do get that first win that we follow it up with more good results and build some consistency.
“If you can do that in this league before you know it you’ve caught teams up and you are giving yourself an opportunity to go past them.”
Tomorrow’s match with the Tigers is crucial.
Of course, all games are given the position Sunderland find themselves in.
But a home win could move the Black Cats to just three points from safety.
The three clubs immediately above the drop zone on 11 points, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough all face title contenders at the weekend.