Sunderland midfielder Jack Rodwell has urged his team to sharpen up defensively as they look to avoid relegation from the Premier League this season.
The Black Cats, 1.57 to be relegated, have already conceded 11 goals in their first four games but they did manage to show some quality in the final third to beat Exeter in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup clash.
Dick Advocaat’s men are 19th in the top-flight table after two defeats and a draw from their first three games of the year.
League Two side Exeter score three times at the Stadium of Light and Rodwell has described some of the defending as “pretty awful”.
While Advocaat will be pleased with his side’s ability to score six goals, Rodwell has warned his side that they must improve at the back before they get left behind in the table.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa, Rodwell told the Sunderland Echo: “There were some things to take from the Exeter game confidence-wise, but there’s still loads to work on defensively.
“We need to do that as a team, not just the back four, because it’s easy to point fingers. But we scored six goals, so we can look at the positives as well.
“At half-time, there were a few raised voices because no-one was happy with the defensive side of the game. There’s a lot to work on still, but we got through – that’s the main thing.”