Duncan Watmore has urged Sunderland to put a nightmare December behind them as they attempt to dig themselves out of Barclays Premier League relegation trouble.
The Black Cats slipped to a fifth successive defeat during the final month of 2015 when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Liverpool on Wednesday evening, a run which has left them seven points from safety and in danger of being cast adrift with the season only at its halfway stage.
They face a massive fixture against Aston Villa – the only club in a worse position – at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, and young striker Watmore knows things have to change soon if they are to rescue themselves.
He said: “It is not ideal and we have had a tricky run of games, but that is no excuse. We need to start winning games and picking up results.
“We have to stay positive. There is no point thinking about past defeats when we have big games coming up. We have to pick ourselves up quickly and give the fans something to cheer about.”
Those fans have had very little to cheer about in recent weeks with Arsenal, Watford, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool all claiming three points against Sam Allardyce’s men, who have conceded 12 goals and scored just three in the process.
Indeed, the last 12 months has proved something of a trial for the red and white faithful with the club having won only seven of the 38 league games it has played – and just five of the 18 which have taken place on Wearside – claiming 30 of the 114 points on offer.
Trips to Swansea and Tottenham await the Black Cats after their must-win showdown with Villa and 21-year-old Watmore, whose emergence has been one of the few bright spots for Sunderland so far this season, is acutely aware that they need to start putting runs of results together.
He said: “We know Villa is a big game, but you have to treat it as professionally as you can and play your own game. We know the situation, but we need to treat it as any other game and try and win, and that’s what we will try to do.
“If we all apply ourselves properly, we can pick up three points. We are looking at three positive results to get out the bottom three. We know where we are and we need those positive results quickly.
“The only way we can do that is by playing well and having a positive outlook on it.”
The Black Cats emerged from the Liverpool game, which was won by Christian Benteke’s 46th-minute strike, with two more injury problems after defender Sebastian Coates limped off with a dead leg following luckless midfielder Jack Rodwell’s premature departure with a hamstring problem.
Allardyce is desperate to add new recruits as soon as the winter transfer window opens, but declined to comment on the situation surrounding Lorient defender Lamine Kone, who is understood to have undergone a medical in the north-east on Wednesday.