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Kenwyne denies fear of the drop
Published : 06 Mar 2010 09:25:03
KENWYNE JONES is a veteran of two successful battles against relegation from the Premier League but the Sunderland striker insists this season there isn't the same fear factor that pervaded the dressing room in recent years. In Roy Keane's debut campaign in the top flight and again under Ricky Sbragia last term the order of the day was for the Wearsiders to achieve survival at all costs. Relegation was barely mentioned when Steve Bruce was unveiled last June as the man who could finally help Sunderland root themselves among the division's established sides. But Tuesday's visit of Bolton Wanderers to the Stadium of Light bears the inevitable label of a relegation six-pointer. Owen Coyle's side could leapfrog Bruce's team if they secure victory at West Ham this afternoon and, should Wigan bag a home win over Liverpool on Monday, the Black Cats would face the Trotters only five places from the bottom. Jones, however, insists that talk of the drop is unhelpful, claiming that the players' focus is concentrated wholly on ending their winless run. We're not acting as though we are close to relegation. All we have is a situation where we are unable to win a game. We are not carrying the fear of being relegated, we are just trying to get back to winning again and finding a good run of form, he said. We've managed to draw a few games recently but we need to start turning those draws into wins. We're not going to talk about it as though we are in the bottom three, or anything like that. I know we haven't won a game for a while but it's not like we've been losing every game. Any point that we get right now is a good point. Of course it would be great to get that first win, but we have to actually go out there and do it. More than anything else, I think we just have to put everything out of our minds and focus. If we take on a load of all the other stuff, it's probably just going to hamper us. Jones' often languid playing style has led to accusations that he lacks the passion required of a topclass striker. Such assumptions ignore the Trinidadian's efforts at both ends of the pitch. His talents as a defender in particular have been a key to Sunderland becoming an increasingly tough prospect for opposition strikers. Everyone has to do some defending when it is necessary. I have had to spend some time at the back defending but it's not really a big issue. I hope that what I am doing is benefiting the team and that we keep on getting clean sheets and hopefully we will go on to get a win, said the striker, who admits the team have suffered from a lack of creativity in the absence of injured pair Andy Reid and Jordan Henderson. The team is always going to miss people. Our squad is not the biggest and when you miss one or two players then there are holes left behind. They [Henderson and Reid] have been terrific all season and it is terrible for them to have the injuries that they have and to be missing out. In some games you have to do more work. In all games you want to be playing further forward but sometimes these things happen. Against Fulham we had a few bodies missing and I was required to play in a different role. It's just a case of doing it for the team. To get out of a relegation battle, as we have for the last two years, everyone has to stand up and be counted. Of course, it starts individually because you have to make sure that you do your job. But it takes more than one to get us out of a situation like this.'' Jones remained cool when asked to comment on reports of unrest among Bruce and some members of the squad. If you're hearing stories, you should ask the people you're hearing them from! I can't say that I have heard any of those stories or seen any of that. You'll probably have to ask the sources. I smile in my sleep! I'm alive, so I have a big reason to smile.