LIAM BRIDCUTT admits Sunderland have “made life harder” for themselves after dropping back to 17th position in the table, but remains confident his new club will haul themselves clear of trouble in the final four months of the season.
He might only have been a Sunderland player for nine days, but the former Brighton midfielder has already experienced the extreme highs and lows that seem to go hand-in-hand with representing the Black Cats.
Last weekend's Tyne-Wear derby win over Newcastle was one of the club's most cherished victories for a number of seasons, but Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Hull provided a harsh reality check and left Gustavo Poyet's side just one point clear of the drop zone.
With a trip to Manchester City to come on Wednesday, things could well get worse before they get better, but Bridcutt is adamant there is more than enough quality in the Sunderland squad to ensure he will not be returning to the Championship come the middle of May.
“We know we have made it a little bit harder for ourselves now,” he said. “But we've got some great players in the dressing room and great leaders in John (O'Shea) and the manager. I'm sure the manager will pick us back up and we'll go again.
“It's definitely been a week of two very different extremes, but there are players in the dressing room who are top-quality players and have massive bundles of experience.
“They know the Premier League inside and out, and we know what we need to do to get out of the situation we're in.”
Bridcutt was touted as a future Sunderland player from the moment Poyet took over at the Stadium of Light, with the pair having enjoyed a close relationship when they worked together at the Amex Stadium.
The Black Cats' initial offer was rejected at the start of last month, and Bridcutt effectively had to take himself out of the Brighton squad in order to force through a move to Wearside. He is here now though, and is determined to make the most of his first taste of life in the top-flight.
“It all happened quite sharp, and I was put straight in and given a lot of responsibility,” said the 24-year-old. “I am very happy to be here.
“I am at a top club, and with a top manager. For me, I want to progress as much as I can in my career. The only way I am going to do that is by playing against top sides and top players.”
He will certainly do that on Wednesday as Sunderland attempt to follow in Chelsea's footsteps and inflict a second successive home defeat on a Manchester City side that had not previously dropped a point at the Etihad Stadium all season.
“I'll be playing against some of the world's best players, and for me, it's a challenge I'm looking forward to,” said Bridcutt. “If we stick to the basics, marking and defending in the way we know we can, I think we could possibly get a good result there.
“They've got some world-class players and it will be a tough game for us, but we're not going to lie down and take it – we're going to come out fighting.”
Sunderland will have to survive without the services of Wes Brown, who has been handed a two-match ban following his dismissal in the opening five minutes of Saturday's defeat.
Brown's mistimed lunge on Shane Long put the Black Cats on the back foot from the off, but Bridcutt has defended the former England international's actions.
“Wes had to make that challenge,” he said. “It is a tackle he had to make. Wes is an experienced player and a top player – he'll bounce back from it easily.”