United look to build on Donetsk draw against Sunderland
Manchester United's Chris Smalling hopes both he and the club will be able to carry on from where they left off against Shakhtar Donetsk when they try to get their Premier League campaign back on track away to bottom of the table Sunderland on Saturday.
David Moyes's United side suffered a shock loss against West Brom last weekend as they suffered their worst start to a league campaign after six games in 24 years.
However, United collected a hard-fought point in Ukraine against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Smalling started that game in place of Rio Ferdinand and the former Fulham defender hopes he can earn the trust of his manager ahead of the visit to the Black Cats, who are without a permanent manager since the sacking of Paolo di Canio.
"It was a confidence boost for me to get picked for the Shakhtar game," Smalling said.
"I want to be involved as much as I can now. Hopefully, I can show the manager I can do a job and he can count on me. He wants players out there he can trust."
England international Smalling believes reigning Premier League champions United's battling display in Ukraine proves they can recover from their poor domestic start.
The Old Trafford club have won just two league games -- against Swansea and Crystal Palace -- so far this season and suffered defeats at Liverpool, Manchester City and at home to West Brom last Saturday -- to leave them in 12th place, eight points off the top of the table.
"We know ourselves that last Saturday and a few other results have not gone our way," Smalling said. "But we were looking forward to the game (in Donetsk) and really showing that we have a bit of character and fight among us. You can only build confidence through performances."
With United desperate for three points, there is a lot of pressure on Moyes' men to deliver at the Stadium of Light this weekend.
England striker Wayne Rooney is expected to feature after missing the Champions League tie in midweek with a bruised shin following a clash in training.
Smalling feels United need three points to avoid another defeat hanging over the club as they head into next week's international break.
"After Saturday, this week was crucial with two away games," Smalling said. "Now we need to make sure we get three points on Saturday, then things will look a lot better going into the international break.
"If we don't get that win, we have two weeks to ponder on what may have been."
Managerless Sunderland, who are without a league win this term, haven't beaten Manchester United in the Premier League in their last 22 attempts stretching back to March 1997.
Saturday sees the north-east club looking for only their third home league victory of what has been a troubled 2013 that has seen the departure of two managers in Martin O'Neill and di Canio.
The Black Cats' seven-season stay in the top flight is under serious threat as they attempt to stem a run of poor defensive displays that has resulted in them conceding three goals in each of their last four Premier League games.
Interim head coach Kevin Ball takes charge for the third match in a row and would doubtless settle for a repeat of the goalless draw he guided Sunderland to at Old Trafford during his first stint in temporary charge seven years ago.
Former Sunderland captain Ball is set to keep faith with the starting line-up that lost 3-1 at home to Liverpool last time out.
"It's a results-driven business but I will also stress to the players the importance of the performance they put in -- for me that's key," Ball said.
"I've again been encouraged by what I've seen in training this week, and if we don't end up getting a result, it won't be for the want of effort and application from the players."
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