‘Sunderland will be better once back four has settled’

GROUNDED ... Ondrej Celustka.
GROUNDED ... Ondrej Celustka.

ONDREJ Celustka says Sunderland will become more defensively resilient once they have a settled back four.

Basement boys Sunderland have conceded six times in their last two games and boast the worst goals against record in the Premier League.

Paolo Di Canio has named an unchanged defence just once this season, with the Sunderland head coach using three separate combinations of centre-halves John O’Shea, Modibo Diakite and Valentin Roberge over the course of the opening five outings.

Skipper O’Shea is expected to return to the back line in tomorrow’s basement clash at West Brom after serving a one-game suspension in last weekend’s defeat to Arsenal.

But while right-back Celustka insists he has been happy to slot in alongside all three central defenders, the Czech believes Sunderland will benefit from having a regular back line.

Celustka said: “There have been a lot of changes, but I can’t say that I was more comfortable to play with one player than another.

“Of course, when four defenders play together for a long time, there’s a better connection between them.

“But in time, we’ll get used to it and I hope we’ll be better together.”

Celustka realises the magnitude of tomorrow’s encounter at the Hawthorns, with the Premier League’s bottom two both searching for their first win of the campaign.

Sunderland have had a sniff of victory in each of their four league games this season, but Celustka says they must convert that potential into concrete points this weekend.

“It’s a key game for us, we are not in a good situation and neither are they,” said the on-loan Trabzonspor defender.

“There is not such a big difference between teams at the bottom.

“We are still at the beginning of the season and if we won tomorrow, we could move up a lot of positions in the table.

“But of course everybody will be happier once we get that win.

“In every game, we’ve been close to getting a better result.

“I hope that luck will come to us and we get the result which we want because points count.”

Despite defeat against Arsenal last weekend, Di Canio has been stressing the positives of a much-improved second half display from his players.

“In the team meeting, Paolo DI Canio showed us clips from the first half and second half, and we could see the difference,” added Celustka.

“We didn’t start well, the first half wasn’t good.

“But in the first few minutes of the second half, we pushed them and created some good chances.

“We could have scored a goal when it was 2-1 and it was a shame that the referee disallowed it.”