SEB LARSSON believes Sunderland need at least three wins to ensure their Premier League survival this season and the honest-talking midfielder insists the squad will deserve to be relegated if they can't achieve that from their remaining ten games.
The Black Cats lie six points above the bottom three despite going on an impressive run of five wins in nine games over December and January, but a recent slump of one win in six has seen Martin O'Neill's side slip back into the relegation mix.
Tomorrow's trip to basement club Queens Park Rangers is a must-win game for the Black Cats as defeat could see the teams below them close the current gap.
Loading article content
Breaking through the 40-point barrier is usually enough to guarantee survival in the top flight, but West Ham boss Sam Allardyce said last week he feels 36 points could be enough to keep a team up.
Larsson, though, believes the Black Cats will need more than six points to survive and the Sweden international has fired a stark warning to his team-mates that they will get what they deserve if they don't start picking up wins.
"Obviously, we will be very happy if we beat QPR. You want to look up the table and aim to climb it," Larsson said.
"If we lose we will have no option to look below us in the table because defeat could see the bottom teams closing the gap on us. If we lose and those teams under us win, then we are right in the relegation mix. You cannot deny it. You have to realise that and accept the situation you are in.
"I have heard 36 points mentioned as being enough to stay up. That would be a low total. Generally, every season, you are looking to get to 40 points.
"That is another ten points from now. Ten points from ten games? If a club of our size and a squad like ours can't get ten points in ten games, we don't deserve to stay up.
"As a squad, we have not openly said that but for us to be able to get those ten points and reach 40 points, that is something we should be able to do. We know we have not done well enough this season."
With six of the bottom eight playing each other tomorrow, it could be a defining weekend for the rest of the season.
As well as Sunderland's game at Loftus Road, Norwich host Southampton, while Reading host Aston Villa, but Larsson believes there will be a few more defining weekends between now and May 19.
He said: "It is a defining weekend, yes, but you could have said that about the last few weekends and the ones coming up as well.
"That is the way it has gone. We have not had the best of runs lately, especially points-wise. But it is a strange season.
"I am not afraid to talk about relegation because we are in a situation where you are not yet safe. You have to accept it and deal with it. That is what we have got to do. Of course, there is a frustration that we are where we are. Definitely. I do not think we should be with the players we have here. But we cannot blame anyone else. It is down to us."
Larsson was refreshingly frank in his sit down with the press this week and while he admits the team's form as a whole hasn't been good enough, he also admitted his own performances haven't been up to scratch.
The Sweden international has been deployed in a more central role for the majority of the season and he admits that has meant changing his game slightly.
"I have played well on and off but I am not going to lie. My season has been inconsistent as well," Larsson admitted. "One thing which has been a major frustration for me is that I have, if I am being completely honest with myself, not affected the game enough.
"I have found myself not getting forward enough, too deep and that is something I try to work on in my head, mentally. I think I took a step in the right direction last Saturday. I have got to keep that going and make sure I can affect the game a bit more.
"There is a bit of responsibility on me this season, the way we are set out and I enjoy that part of it. But at the same time, it has been frustrating not been able to do what I am used to like getting a few more assists and a few more goals throughout the season. I will try to correct that in the remaining weeks of the season."
O'Neill, meanwhile, received an injury boost after Danny Rose played in a practice match following his return to training from injury.