Sunderland club captain John O’Shea says it is vital that Sunderland start a pivotal week with a good result – should tomorrow’s Championship visit to Millwall get the green light.
The Black Cats begin a busy schedule against Millwall tomorrow afternoon before taking on Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night.
They then return to the capital to face Ian Holloway’s QPR next Saturday.
The gap to fourth-bottom spot has increased to five points following Barnsley’s 1-1 draw at Hull in midweek.
“We have to make sure we keep clean sheets while continuing to score goals,” said centre-back O’Shea.
“Wins are crucial now and we know they are key, so we have to start getting them and the sooner the better.
“We know the challenge we face [against Millwall] and it’s one we’re looking forward to.
“We have to be ready for it because they have a good mix of experience and youth in their team, and, like us, they’re going to be up for it.
“We have three games in seven days, but the first, and therefore the most important one, is Millwall.
“Hopefully when that’s out the way we’ve got a fantastic result that can give us a boost for the next two.”
Millwall are sure to be a tough challenge for the Wearsiders, with the Lions on a run of three victories.
Boss Chris Coleman says Millwall will pose a touch challenge at the Den but insists that Sunderland’s fate is in their own hands.
He said: “It’s a big seven days, every game for us is a cup final at the moment.
“The opposition we’ve got it is going to be tough, but the opportunity is there to be taken. That’s how we have to see it, we can flip everything. I’m looking forward to it.
“Millwall are a tough team to play against, very well organised and not afraid to play ugly when they need to, which is a feather in their cap. But they also play good football, and Neil Harris is doing a real good job.
“It’s his first job in management. but he’s been there a few years and has done fabulously well. At home, they’re strong – it is never an easy place to go and they’re coming off the back of three straight victories.
“It is just about us. They’re just in our way, it is about us being greedy.”
The weekend’s schedule could be affected by the ‘beast from the east’, with further weather warnings in place for the weekend.
Relegation rivals Burton Albion have already seen their trip to Sheffield United postponed.
Barnsley’s clash with Norwich City will be subject to a pitch inspection.
Millwall have yet to make any comment regarding the Sunderland game, with their squad training in sub-zero temperatures yesterday.