Zenden backs Cats to avoid repeat of slide
DESPITE suffering back-to-back defeats for the first time this season, Boudewijn Zenden is confident Sunderland can avoid repeating last year's difficult winter. The Black Cats started last season in similar fashion to this campaign, but a dismal stretch of 14 games without a win during the winter months put an end to their chances of a top ten finish. As well as two consecutive defeats, it has been a frustrating festive period for most clubs, with the bad weather conditions affecting preparations. Boss Steve Bruce has also lost some key players to injury but Zenden believes the squad are better equipped to deal with injuries and have learnt from last year to deal with the adverse weather conditions. "I believe we've got a good balance in the team at the moment," Zenden said. "We've been getting the right results, we're quite solid and tight at the back and we score up front. It's a good mixture. "Injuries aren't affecting us as much as they were this time last year. We've got a bigger squad and we've got a lot of players behind one another when anyone is unlucky to be injured. "We've probably learnt a bit from last year, because it was really hard to train and we had to go indoors quite a bit. "We had some players who couldn't really cope with the artificial pitch and picked up injuries.'' He recalled: "We even travelled to Portugal but when we got there it was raining cats and dogs. "I think we're coping with it for now, it's just been a case of keeping on top of things, we've tried to do our best but the snow it catching everyone this year." After watching his side lose to Blackpool at the Stadium of Light, Bruce called on the Football Association to introduce a winter break after several of his players fell foul to the hectic festive period. And although Zenden says he relishes playing during the Festive period, he admits a winter break wouldn't be a bad thing for English football. "I enjoy playing over Christmas. Its not a sacrifice, because you're doing something you love," the former Chelsea and Middlesbrough man said. "I like to play games and if they come as fast as they do now that's fine. All the other countries have a break. I don't think it will be a bad thing to have a break within the season. "The Premier League is very demanding and you can see towards the end of the season the English season finishes a bit earlier as well, I wouldn't want to take away boxing day, because that's the tradition, but maybe give the players a week off after that to give their legs a rest. "Maybe that would improve the quality as well. It's nothing to do with the weather, because you might have a week's rest when there's no snow and start again when there is. You can't predict the weather but maybe a break would be good."
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