VITO MANNONE insists Sunderland are not content to be the supporting cast in this week’s Capital One Cup final dress rehearsal against Manchester City.
Two-and-a-half weeks before facing City at Wembley, Sunderland head to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night looking to become only the second team this season to take points off the Premier League’s top scorers on their own turf.
Sunderland wasted a golden opportunity to improve their survival prospects on Saturday after the 10-man Black Cats succumbed to fellow strugglers Hull City - a result which left Gus Poyet’s side just one point above the bottom three.
Ahead of successive league games away at Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool - providing neither side reach the FA Cup quarter-finals - it was a damaging blow to Sunderland’s chances of moving away from danger.
But after coming back from what looked to be a fatal league position already this season, goalkeeper Mannone says Sunderland shouldn’t be written off in a daunting run of games.
Mannone said: “We are in a situation where we need to win games or at least draw them.
“We are going to big, big clubs, but we have to fight.
“We came back from a situation where everybody was thinking we were relegated and dead, and we’ve put ourselves in a situation where we can fight. That’s what we need to do again.
“Any game in front of us is an important one to get points from and we will try our best. We’re not fearing anybody and that’s the mentality.
“It will be a test at Man City, but a good one for us, even if they are really strong at home.
“Everybody agrees they are scoring goals for fun and we will need to be at our best to defend really well and do something attacking.
“It’s going to be a tough game, but it will put something in our minds of what we’re going to do in the final.”
Sunderland’s hopes of a third successive league win on Saturday took a major blow after just four minutes against the Tigers when Wes Brown became the third fastest player in Premier League history to be sent off.
Mannone admits the Black Cats struggled to recover from that early set back, as ex-Sunderland boss Steve Bruce enjoyed a successful return to the Stadium of Light.
“The game went wrong after a couple of minutes really,” added Mannone, one of the few Sunderland players to emerge with any credit from the 2-0 defeat.
“We put ourselves in a situation again that it’s difficult to come out of.
“We switched off and gave the ball away and obviously, there’s one problem after another and we pay the price with Wes making the tackle.
“It was a game that we could have done well if it was 11 against 11, but the game changed from that moment and then it was difficult for us.
“Hull have got quality and they can keep the ball. We tried our best and we were unlucky with the goals - a couple of deflections.
“But we need to look at ourselves, what went wrong and take it.”