Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat has urged his players to forget their humiliating 4-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace when they head to Stoke City in the Premier League this weekend.
Having claimed a 1-0 derby victory over Newcastle United in Advocaat’s second match in charge, Sunderland were brought crashing back down to earth by Alan Pardew’s Palace.
The Wearsiders have now had a fortnight to mull over that defeat, with last weekend’s scheduled opponents Arsenal in FA Cup semi-final action, and head into the final six games of the season just a point clear of the relegation zone.
“This is a different game, a new game,” Advocaat told the club’s official website. “We know that there are only six games to go, only five weeks that we can show that we want to stay up.
“I have the feeling that the players are really up for it and hopefully we can show that on Saturday.
“The commitment when we go out there is important and we know that we have to get results.
“We need at least six points from the last six games – then we have a chance to stay up.”
The first chance to make a dent in that six-point target comes at the Britannia Stadium, and Advocaat is confident Sunderland, who won the reverse fixture 3-1, can produce a positive performance.
“It has been good using the week to be training a little bit sharper,” he added. “We played a friendly game too against Hamilton with a little bit of a different system.
“I could see them in a different way of playing, so that was good.
“After the last home game against Crystal Palace we need to show that that was a mistake.
“We have to show that we are improving and you can see at training the way they [Sunderland’s players] have trained and the way they’ve worked; I have a good feeling about it.”
Stoke have little left to play for, although they will be keen to surpass their record points total of 50, achieved last season, and currently sit four short of that marker.
The home side are without Bojan Krkic (knee), Victor Moses (hamstring) and Marc Muniesa (hamstring), while Sebastian Larsson (suspended), Wes Brown (knee) and Emanuele Giaccherini (ankle) are among Sunderland’s absentees.
Sunderland winger Adam Johnson was charged with three counts of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16 and one count of sexual grooming on Thursday.
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