Vaughan sees quality in Sunderland squad

David Vaughan is confident there is enough quality in the Sunderland dressing room to drag the club out of relegation trouble.

David Vaughan

It is a measure of the Black Cats' current plight that their chances of top-flight survival are a topic for debate just eight games into the new Barclays Premier League survival.

Their return of just one point from a possible 24 to date has left them rooted to the foot of the table heading into Sunday's derby clash with Newcastle, and the outcome could have a major psychological impact - win and they are off and running, but lose and the clouds massing over the Stadium of Light will darken considerably.

However, whatever happens this weekend, Vaughan is convinced the squad is strong enough to turn things around under new manager Gus Poyet, just as they did following Martin O'Neill's arrival at the club in December 2011.

The 30-year-old Wales international said: "Yes, definitely.

"We just need a couple of good results to get the belief there and get on a good run, like we did when Martin O'Neill came in, and we can easily climb up the table.

"We need to work together. If we start blaming each other, it's only going to get worse.

"If we can stick together and if we can get a couple of wins or a few good results, then the belief is there and we can hopefully climb up the table."

O'Neill was drafted in as Steve Bruce's replacement on December 6, 2011 and immediately embarked upon a run of seven wins and a draw in his first 10 league games, and a similar return is just what is required if Poyet is to rekindle hope.

The Uruguayan has time on his side, but with Sunderland already seven points adrift of safety, the total needs to start ticking over sooner rather than later.

Poyet is the fourth permanent manager under whom Vaughan has worked since arriving at the Stadium of Light from Blackpool in July 2011 with Bruce, O'Neill and Paolo Di Canio having all departed unceremoniously in short order.

However, he admits he and his team-mates cannot afford to allow the latest upheaval to distract them.

He said: "It's just something you have got to deal with. We have probably not helped in the matter with the results that we have been able to get on the pitch.

"But we have just got to work together and stick together and try to do well for the new manager."

Sunderland and Vaughan in particular at least have fond and recent memories upon which to draw as they head into this weekend's fixture.

The Black Cats travelled to St James' Park in April as underdogs in Di Canio's second game at the helm in the midst of another survival battle, and emerged with a 3-0 victory capped by the Welshman's stunning 82nd-minute strike.

He said: "It was probably the best moment in a Sunderland shirt for me, so hopefully if I get the opportunity, I can if not score, then help the team win.

"We need something to kick-start our season, get that belief there and if we can win at the weekend against our local rivals, then everyone will be happy on Monday."

Newcastle head into the game on the back of a moral victory having held high-flying Liverpool to a 2-2 draw at St James' last weekend despite playing the final 50 minutes with only 10 men.

However, despite everything that is at stake, Vaughan insists all the pressure will evaporate as soon as the first whistle sounds.

He said: "It's not too difficult, really. Once you get on the pitch, you concentrate on what you are doing and you try to do the best you can for the club."

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