NOT that Chris Coleman is looking for any sort of reminder about the size of the struggling club he has taken on, but there will be a substantial one for any players doubting the potential of Sunderland at the Cardiff City Stadium this lunchtime.

Despite propping up the Championship table after 26 matches, the extensive financial problems being experienced on Wearside and the number of players keen to leave, there will still be approaching 1,000 fans making the trip to South Wales.

It is another indication of what sort of following Sunderland has, even though there has been a lot of focus on the number of empty seats when they play at home – where they have only won once in 13 months.

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But Coleman has been overwhelmed by the support during a period in the club’s history where there is a genuine chance of dropping into the third tier of English football and a lack of movement on the transfer front to be excited about.

The Sunderland boss said: "It's a hell of a long journey for our fans. We are taking almost 1,000 of our fans there. They will be leaving at about three in the morning to get there on time. Incredible really. Some effort that.

“We have to make sure we match that in terms of our input to the game. It will be tough but it's a good game for us, good stadium and all to play for.

“It's amazing, isn't it? It's a hell of a journey, a long journey. To take that amount considering where we are tells you the importance of this football club to this city. It is everything.

"It can weigh heavy on your shoulders. You cannot come here and fail because the consequences are not good but for others, it drives you on. It is exciting.

"If you can have any kind of success here, it can be really good. Where we are at the minute is not success. We are in a fight but we are going down to Cardiff, a long way from home with 1,000 of our people backing us up. I look at it as a big positive. Nothing to be afraid of.”

It is that message he is repeating to his players. While he knows there are some who still want to leave before the window closes - after James Vaughan joined Wigan yesterday - he is also desperate to fill his squad with those he feels have the character to lead a survival charge.

Jake Clarke-Salter is only 20 but has been identified as a defender with the right mentality to slot straight in, while Burnley forward Jon Walters is being targeted because of his hard-working approach – and comes recommended by Ireland team-mate John O’Shea.

Cardiff have lost their last four matches in the league, but can return to second spot by beating Sunderland this afternoon – and Coleman is demanding focus and spirit against the Bluebirds.

He said: “We have to go in and try to get points in every game we play. We are in a deficit. We had one win in 17 and now we have won three in nine so we have made a small progression. The problem is it has coincided with other teams having their best spells. It’s very close.

“The beauty of this league is anyone can beat anyone on any given day, for us what is going to happen? We need more belief in ourselves and we need to win back-to-back games. Hopefully we will have help from one or two new faces. Whatever game you look at we need to get the points. Every game is a chance for three points.”

Despite being born in Swansea, Coleman will return to the venue where he regularly led Wales into battle before taking on the Sunderland challenge.

He said: “I know the stadium like the back of my hand, spent a lot of time there, it will be nice to go back. Cardiff won’t be looking at us thinking it’s an easy 90 minutes especially if we are as good as we can be.

“I am not sure what the reception will be because I am a Swansea boy. All my memories of the stadium are very positive and I have to make sure that doesn’t change. I want another positive memory in terms of the performance.

“The highlight would be the Belgium game, when we beat them with Gareth Bale scoring and the whole crowd singing the national anthem after 70 minutes ... that stands out because it was the game that put us in a position where we knew we were going to qualify (for the Euros). There were some great memories but that would be the stand-out game for me and the stand-out night.

"But I'll be quite happy if it's a quiet stadium after 70 minutes this time. Cardiff have a big following and they have been at the top of the league for long spells yet they have a half-empty stadium a lot, you know. It's a tough crowd there. I know because I have been on the end of it when we weren't winning. I've also been there when we are winning and it can be a very noisy crowd too so we have to try to keep them quiet.”