DANNY Rose is happy to play through the pain for Sunderland’s survival bid after helping the Black Cats earn some breathing space between themselves and the relegation zone.
Rose returned to the Sunderland starting line-up in Saturday’s crunch 1-0 victory at fellow strugglers Southampton, as a second win in three moved Martin O’Neill’s men four points clear of the bottom three.
The on-loan Spurs left-back missed Sunderland’s defeat at Manchester United nine days ago with an ankle problem and admits he has still not completely shaken off the injury.
But with Sunderland’s situation still precarious, the in-form Rose wants to play his part and will again grit his way through Boxing Day’s visit of Manchester City before taking an enforced break against parent club Spurs next Saturday.
Rose said: “I travelled with the team to Man United, and on Saturday morning I went out to do a fitness test with Adam Johnson.
“But I was no good, I was struggling.
“Even on Saturday, I didn’t feel the best, but I think the team needed me.
“I had to soldier on, strap my ankle up and go out and play.
“Hopefully I can get through Wednesday, and then obviously I can’t play against Spurs, so that will give me chance for a bit of rest.”
Rose was under no illusions about the magnitude of Sunderland’s victory in front of 1,800 travelling fans at St Mary’s.
A fortnight ago, Sunderland sank into the bottom three, but victories over newly-promoted duo Reading and Southampton have provided a far healthier outlook ahead of daunting encounters against City, Spurs and Liverpool.
“I think you find out a lot about players and the squad when things aren’t going well,” said Rose.
“You want to see people stand up and be counted. On Saturday, all 11 players stood up.
“We knew we had to beat Reading at home, and get something at Southampton.
“We’re all buzzing and hopefully we can push on.
“It’s great that we’ve got breathing space with the bottom three. Hopefully that will give everyone a bit of confidence.”
Steven Fletcher’s eighth goal of the season proved decisive at St Mary’s, but the key to Sunderland’s victory was a stellar defensive effort from the Black Cats, with Southampton barely threatening Simon Mignolet’s goal.
Rose added: “We defended brilliantly.
“Rickie Lambert is the most difficult player I’ve played against this season in terms of holding the ball up and flick-ons.
“But Sheasy (John O’Shea) and Carlos (Cuellar) were brilliant and don’t forget the midfielders as well.
“When Lambert did win a header, the midfielders tracked the runners and made everyone else’s job a lot easier.
“The atmosphere at the end in the dressing room was unbelievable.
“When you see Fraizer Campbell’s block with 10 minutes to go, it epitomised the spirit and determination of the boys to work for each other.
“We’re over the moon to get three points.”