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Sunderland’s Costa Rican international puts World Cup ambitions to one side to focus on survival push

Sunderland left-back Bryan Oviedo attacks against Ipswich in last week's Championship defeat. Picture by Frank Reid
Sunderland left-back Bryan Oviedo attacks against Ipswich in last week's Championship defeat. Picture by Frank Reid

Bryan Oviedo is not letting this summer’s World Cup distract him from his main aim – keeping Sunderland in the Championship.

The Costa Rican international will be heading to the World Cup finals in Russia, but first has the major task of helping the Black Cats avoid a successive relegation.

“I am not thinking about the summer,” said Oviedo. “At the moment, the most important thing for me is to play in every game.

“The World Cup is very important, of course, but my head is 100 per cent focused on Sunderland and trying to do the best I can to help us get out of the situation we are in.

“I hope that everyone can stick together and fight for that.”

Oviedo, who has previously admitted he would weigh up his Sunderland future in the summer, joined from Everton in a double deal with midfielder Darron Gibson last January.

The club was relegated from the Premier League after a 10-year stint and are now in real danger of suffering back-to-back relegations.

Sunderland are second-bottom, two points from safety ahead of Saturday’s visit to play-off contenders Bristol City.

Sunderland’s confidence visibly drains from them when they go behind, a character flaw this side needs to address.

Oviedo added: “It’s difficult because when the team is not doing well sometimes it is not easy to play.

“It’s not easy for the young boys coming into the team – it would have been easier to give young players a chance when a team is doing well.

“At the moment, I try to do what is best for me – everyone has to think like that.

“The most important thing is to be sure you never back down, fighting and progress every training session to be in the games.”

Chris Coleman’s options have been boosted by five January signings – Jake Clarke-Salter, Ovie Ejaria, Lee Camp, Ashley Fletcher and Kazenga LuaLua.

Oviedo added: “It’s good because they have come in with fresh energy. It has helped us a lot.

“I hope we have this full week together and hopefully show something different on Saturday.”