Defender Jan Kirchhoff feels the warm weather training camp Sunderland enjoyed in Dubai has helped increase team spirit at the club.
A number of new faces were welcomed by boss Sam Allardyce during the January transfer window and Kirchhoff feels the chance to spend a prolonged period of time together means they have bonded quickly.
The German is hoping that will help them continue their recent upturn in form when they face West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday.
“It was good for us as a team because we have had a lot of new players to integrate so it was good to spend a lot of time with the guys and get to know each other and grow up as a group,” he said.
“It’s important because it is not all about the individual qualities it’s about how we have to act and play as a team. I think it has been a big benefit for us to be successful.”
Five points from their last four games has helped give Sunderland momentum in the race to avoid relegation and Kirchhoff says there is more to come.
Victory at West Ham in Saturday’s early kick-off would be enough to lift Sunderland out of the drop zone, at least temporarily.
“We are really happy right now, the last five opponents have been really strong but we have got a lot of points,” he said.
“We are in a good way and we have to create a good feeling for West Ham because we have had a good week training so we’re going there to win the game and get three more points to get us up the table.”
Sunderland are 4.50 to win away at West Ham. The Hammers are 1.86 while the draw is 3.60.