DANNY GRAHAM insists Sunderland should not be worried about their position in the table, despite suffering a third straight league defeat at the hands of West Brom on Saturday.
The Black Cats’ last victory came at Wigan in early January and they have since struggled to recapture the form that lifted them to closer to the top ten over the festive period.
Such a run could be detrimental to a team placed in the bottom half, but despite a trio of defeats Martin O’Neill’s side remain in 13th place with a six-point cushion between them and the bottom three.
But if Sunderland don’t recover from their stutter soon, that gap could get smaller if teams below them begin to pick up points.
The fact that hasn’t been the case means they can rest easy for now and Graham is confident his side won’t be dragged into the relegation dogfight.
“It is a worry when we have chances and don’t take anything from games.
“That’s happened three matches in a row now,” said Graham, who was handed his first start since his £5.5m move from Swansea.
“The fact we have created chances shows something is right, we just need to finish more of them off.
“If we weren’t creating chances we’d be in trouble and it would be a problem. If that stays the same then there will be cause to worry, but I don’t see a cause to worry just yet and hopefully we can get a result next week.
“We are creating chances and one game we’ll probably end up giving someone a bit of a beating, but that’s just the way football goes.
“Football is based on results and you want to win every game possible, but it’s tough in this league. You can go three or four games without a winning but you’ve got to keep going and believe you’re going to win the next one.
“We haven’t been picking up results, but the gap to the bottom three hasn’t got smaller.
Teams below us haven’t been picking up enough points. We’re not looking over our shoulder, I don’t think we need to.
“I’m sure we’ll be fine, if we can get a result and go on a little run before the end of the season we’ll move up the table.”
For the third game running, Sunderland came close to getting something out of it, but they left it late after going two down.
Romelu Lukaku scored in each half to put daylight between the teams and even though Stephane Sessegnon pulled one back with ten minutes remaining, the Black Cats couldn’t find that equaliser, despite a couple of great chances.
Graham believes there are positives to take from the game and, having been in control in the latter stages, the striker believes the side’s fighting spirit will be vital for the run in.
He said: “It was frustrating to get back into it with a bit of time left and have chances to get a point, but it was just the final ball or the final finish that let us down.
“It’s something we can work on in training and build on but it was nice to see noone’s head go down after their second goal.
“It shows we’ve got a lot of fighting spirit in the team and that’s something we’re going to need in the final 12 games.”
Sunderland came up against an impressive West Brom on Saturday, but it was their striker Lukaku who really stood out at the Hawthorns.
The 19-year-old Belgian is on a season-long loan from Chelsea and his brace against the Black Cats took his figures to nine goals in 12 games this season.
“The boy’s done well,” Graham said. “He’s only 19-yearsold and he’s come on loan from Chelsea to get games and he’s done ever so well.
“He was a handful all afternoon and took his penalty very well.
“His second goal was a bit lucky, it could have gone anywhere really, but when he gets a look in it flies into the back of the net.
“He’s got a great future but we want to focus on ourselves and how we can improve.”