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Defender Phil Bardsley feels Sunderland can beat the drop this season, with Gus Poyet lifting the players from their malaise under the previous regime.
The Black Caps made a disastrous start to their campaign and took just one point from their first seven Premier League games of the season to sit rock bottom of the table.
But, after Poyet replaced Paulo di Canio at the helm back in September last year, results have improved and the North East outfit now find themselves in 19th place but within touching distance of safety.
It has certainly not been plain sailing since Poyet’s arrival but a run of just one league defeat in six matches means Sunderland have now garnered 17 points this term and are just three points behind Norwich City in 15th.
They have every chance of staving off relegation while they will take a 2-1 lead into the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final tie with Manchester United.
The club is certainly in a better place than it was a few months ago and Bardsley is in no doubt where the inspiration has come from.
“You have got to have a very good team spirit. I think that was beyond dead six months ago. Now we have dug it out,” he said.
“The manager came in and gave the players a new lease of life, and everyone is taking their opportunity.”
Sunderland’s next task will be to try to take all three points from a Southampton side that has gone into free fall of late and they can be backed at 3.08 to take care of the Saints on Saturday, with Southampton on offer at 2.28.