David Moyes is under no illusions as to the importance of Sunderland’s next three games.
The Black Cats travel to Vicarage Road to face an out-of-sorts Watford today before visiting Leicester City on Tuesday and hosting Manchester United next weekend.
The Foxes are resurgent under Craig Shakespeare, while United are unbeaten in 18 Premier League games.
Bottom club Sunderland are currently seven points adrift of 17th-place Swansea City, with Paul Clement’s team taking on struggling Middlesbrough on Sunday lunchtime.
Moyes knows his team’s own form has to improve, saying that two good results will give his side a chance, with the likes of Bournemouth and Swansea still to visit the Stadium of Light.
The Sunderland manager said: “It is a big week and obviously we want three good results.
“But we need two good results to keep us there or thereabouts, before a period where we play Bournemouth and Swansea a bit further down the line.
“We have to make sure we are still in there with a real chance, and are not detached – we’re on the verge of that, and if we don’t at least get something out of the games this week, it would make it really difficult with the situation we are in.”
Sunderland’s busy upcoming schedule at least offers some hope of the Black Cats building some crucial momentum, as they have done in the great escapes of seasons gone by.
They played just twice in March due to internationals and an early cup exit, a period in which key players neared full fitness.
Lee Cattermole and Victor Anichebe are not expected to feature at Vicarage Road this afternoon, however, while key striker Troy Deeney is a doubt for the hosts through illness.
Moyes is hoping that the rush of fixtures can be of benefit to his struggling side.
He said: “Maybe so. If we can get something going and get some momentum, that’s great; if not, at least there is a quick turnaround before the next game.
“We’ve got three games in the next eight days and we need to put some more points on the board.”