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Bruce - 'We are in a relegation battle'
Published : 26 Feb 2010 16:29:56
SUNDERLAND boss Steve Bruce admits his side are locked in a fight for Premier League survival. However, the 49-year-old is convinced they have what it takes to drag themselves away from the foot of the table as they embark on a series of four successive home games, starting with Fulham's visit to the Stadium of Light on Sunday. The Black Cats are without a win in 13 league outings, a run which has seen them slip to within three points of the relegation zone, sparking a sense of trepidation in the city in the wake of two prolonged scraps for top-flight status since the club's return to the Premier League at the end of the 2006-07 campaign. But far from shying away from a situation which has soured Bruce's promising start on Wearside, he is ready to meet it head-on. He said: "We have got to be realistic, we are in amongst the bottom lot, that's for sure. "You can probably rule Stoke and Blackburn out of it now, so there are nine teams in there. "But if we get a couple of results, it's a different issue. Then you start thinking about, 'Can we catch one of them Can we catch a Blackburn or a Stoke'." Sunderland's last league victory came against Arsenal on November 21 and in the meantime Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Everton, Stoke and Wigan have all left the North-East with something to show for their efforts. However, only Villa and Chelsea have won at the Stadium of Light this season, and with Fulham, Bolton, Manchester City and Birmingham all due on Wearside in quick succession over the next few weeks, Bruce is confident their fate remains in their own hands. Asked if we was still able to enjoy his job, he said: "Enjoy it You learn from it, you learn from it, and it's been a sharp learning curve, that's for sure. "But thankfully, I have got ten, 12 years behind me. We have all had bad runs - it's my turn and we have got to get through it and get a win. "If we can get a win on Sunday, the whole thing changes round again. "We just need that first win. If we can get that first win, I am convinced we will be okay. "We have got seven out of the next 12 at home, so we have got a very, very good opportunity to still salvage our season. "We still hope we can finish in the top ten rather than keep looking over our shoulder, which everybody is at the moment." Bruce's side was at one point being spoken of as potential contenders for European qualification, although he was keeping his feet firmly on the ground at the time and still insists he knew his arrival and the signings he has made since were never likely to provide an immediate fix to a series of long-standing problems. He said: "As big a club as we are, we have been up and down four times in ten years. Therein lies the problem. "I always knew it was going to be hard. They just survived last year, they just survived the year before - I knew what I was taking on. "But I have definitely got no regrets about it. It has been tough, the last three months - not just the weather either, I am talking about the whole thing. But no, I wouldn't change a thing." Bruce will have key midfielder Lee Cattermole back from suspension and hopes only Andy Reid and Jordan Henderson will join the banned David Meyler on the sidelines this weekend. ** READ MORE SUNDERLAND NEWS IN TOMORROW'S NORTHERN ECHO **