Colback confident that Cats can continue cup progress AND retain Premier League status (From The Advertiser Series)
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Colback confident that Cats can continue cup progress AND retain Premier League status
7:00am Thursday 20th February 2014 in Sport
JACK COLBACK is convinced that Sunderland possess the strength in depth to continue their assault on three fronts this season.
Victory against Southampton on Saturday set up an FA Cup quarter-final trip to either Hull City or Brighton and Hove Albion, with the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley nine days away.
Sunderland’s impressive exploits in knockout games this season has not affected performances in the league so far, but with games against West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United and Liverpool having to be rescheduled as well as last week’s postponed City game yet to find a place in the calendar, the games will come thick and fast for the Black Cats.
Sunderland’s ability to reschedule the West Brom and Liverpool games - the West Ham game has been slated for March 31 - has been hampered by UEFA’s stipulation that Premier League games are not arranged on Champions League nights, although the governing body have been flexible on occasions in the past.
Such a situation has forced Hull and Brighton to play their fourth round replay on Monday evening, 48 hours after playing in respective league games, a situation which Tigers boss Steve Bruce called ‘ridiculous’ and ‘bizarre’.
The winners of that game will host Sunderland on the weekend of March 8/9 - a week after the Capital One Cup final - before the Black Cats go into crucial relegation clashes against Norwich City, Crystal Palace and the Hammers.
But Colback believes that Gus Poyet’s side have the squad to deal with the backlog of fixtures.
“We made a lot of changes at the weekend against Southampton and did brilliantly,” said the midfielder. “Southampton are no mugs, they’re are very good team and put a strong side out. We deserved the win, so I think that shows we’ve got the players to cope with it.
“Every time you get a win it breeds confidence in the side. If we’d come into the cup games thinking, ‘It’s not the league, it’s not important’ and got beaten you leave on a downer.
“We’ve shown in the Capital One Cup we can go all the way, so why not in the FA Cup as well?
“After the Hull game we knew Southampton was an important game that we had to try and win. On the day things didn’t go right for us against Hull.
“We put it right with another good performance.”
Under Poyet, Sunderland have steadied the ship in the Premier League while staying in both cup competitions, and while it has been suggested that Poyet’s side could emulate Middlesbrough in 1997, where they reached the final of both cups yet suffered relegation, or Wigan Athletic, who won the FA Cup only to be eliminated from the top flight, Colback has suggested that reaching both cup finals and staying up is an attainable task.
“Yeah, why not,” said the Killingworth-raised schemer. “We were dead and buried at one point but we’ve got in the mix again and I think you’ve got to admire what we’ve done to get to the FA Cup quarter-finals and the final of the Capital One Cup. If we can finish 13th or 14th it would be a very good season for us.
“We just need to focus on the next game and take it as it comes.”
Sunderland’s cup successes have - with the exception of the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at Old Trafford - all been at the Stadium of Light this season, but last weekend’s FA Cup draw threw up the Black Cats’ first away tie of the season.
Colback is not worried about who victors on Monday night, and is confident Sunderland can continue their cup run.
“This will be the first time we’ve been drawn away from home and we’ve had some decent ties as well,” said Colback. “We were hoping for another one in the quarter-finals but if not, then we wanted a game we could be confident of getting something out of.
“There are a lot of good teams still in the competition but we’ve been playing well away from home so we’ll be confident of going down there to try and get a result, whether it's Brighton or Hull.”