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Keeper Lee Camp draws on experience of previous survival battles to reveal how Sunderland can retain Championship status

Lee Camp agonises as Bristol City go 3-0 up against Sunderland last weekend. Picture by Frank Reid
Lee Camp agonises as Bristol City go 3-0 up against Sunderland last weekend. Picture by Frank Reid

Lee Camp knows exactly what it takes to survive in the Championship – and he is adamant that this Sunderland squad has the ability and spirit to achieve it.

The 33-year-old has a wealth of experience in the second tier and has been part of sides which have navigated themselves away from relegation danger.

Most notably, at Nottingham Forest, he played a key role in a three-month loan spell.

Then, at Rotherham United, under Neil Warnock two seasons ago, he helped the Millers pull off their own version of the Great Escape.

Camp, signed on deadline day on loan from Cardiff City, believes the Sunderland squad has more ability than those sides and has praised the team spirit witnessed in his first two weeks on Wearside.

At Forest, in the 2008-09 campaign, Camp played an important role in helping the club climb out of the bottom three, while, at Rotherham, he played his part in a crucial 11-game unbeaten spell that sealed survival.

That Rotherham run started in February 2016, beginning with a 2-1 win over Brentford, the visitors to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Camp said: “When Warnock came in at Rotherham, it wasn’t all plain sailing at first.

“It takes a bit of time to work through the long grass and then you get a win – we beat Brentford 2-1, we got battered but got a win.

“Then it changes morale, a win makes a big difference.

“Get that win and you are off to the races. It was around this time with Rotherham we went 11 games unbeaten and then were safe.

“All is not lost (for second-bottom Sunderland). It is very tight, a couple of wins changes everything.”

“I see a better squad here, that is the first thing,” added Camp, when asked about the similarities between Forest, Rotherham and Sunderland.

“I see more ability. I see a team spirit, a group that works hard on the training ground to put things right.

“I see an honest group that don’t want to be in this position. Everyone is pulling in the right direction, they know the task in hand.

“It is important because when you start getting divides and cliques that is not good, I don’t see any of that here. I see a club and training ground all pulling in the right direction.”

Sunderland is the 10th club of Camp’s career, though that includes half a dozen loans.

Camp added: “It always seems to be the case, when you go out on loan, you never seem to go to a team that is doing well, it is always somewhere where you’re needed or the team is struggling.

“I’ve experienced enough to know that it is not over until it is over. One result doesn’t decide anything – it is a case of being consistent and getting results.

“Hopefully, the second half at Bristol City (coming from 3-0 down to draw 3-3) will prove a turning point and instil some confidence in the lads, including those still settling in.

“There are enough games left and enough winnable games within those fixtures.

“Time is of the essence, though. We want to get the points soon. You don’t want to be going down to the wire – get the job done as soon as possible.

“I have experienced these situations, probably more than I would have liked to.

“But there is enough in the dressing room for me to think there are similarities between teams I have played for who have done it and stayed up.

“Confidence is a big thing, getting a bit of luck also helps.

“Essentially, it comes down to us being organised, disciplined and sacrificing a couple of things along the way and eventually the results will come.

“I am not here to hide behind anything.

“I am here to perform, to do a job – that is why I came.

“The bonus is I play games and put myself in contention wherever that may be. I am here to play games and do a job and perform for Sunderland. The rest will take care of itself.”