CHRIS Coleman says he will build his side for next season around George Honeyman, whichever division Sunderland end up in.

The 23-year-old midfielder was a shining light in the 1-0 defeat at Queens Park Rangers, illuminating the game with a display of commitment and bravery that became more impressive with every passing minute at Loftus Road.

Coleman said: “I’ve been in the game as a player and as a manager in professional football for 30 years and in terms of mentality, I haven’t seen anything better than George.

“He has an absolutely huge, huge personality in that he’s desperate to play football and he’s desperate to play for Sunderland Football Club, even in these times.

“These times now are tough for us and for George, but honestly, he’ll be much better at the end of them. I keep saying it, but he will.

“He’s a chip off the old block. It bothers him for days if he plays badly. If he’s not playing, he’s devastated. It’s all about the game, all about playing football and playing for Sunderland.

“You saw today his input on the game was brilliant, his energy, his enthusiasm. His personality was absolutely great. He deserved something from the game, but you don’t always get what you deserve.

“He’s a player to build around next season – 100 per cent, yes. Do you know what, you could build around him if you were in the league above.

“George Honeymans don’t grow on trees. They don’t. If we were in the Premier League and I was standing here, I’d still say we could build around George Honeyman. He’s that type of boy and people forget that he’s still young.”

Coleman admitted he thought he would be preparing for life in League One already, but the continuing inability of Barnsley, Birmingham and Burton to pick up wins means that Sunderland are still only four points from safety.

Hull, Bolton and Reading all eased their relegation concerns on Saturday, which means that, temporarily at least, the battle to beat the drop is down to four sides.

Coleman added: “The teams around us keep dangling carrots for us. They’re not putting us out of our misery. And while that gap’s there and it’s not getting bigger, there’s still a chance.

“It would be much easier for us if we were 10 points adrift and people were saying: ‘They’re already down.’ The next nine games would have been written off.

“But there’s a chance, there’s still a big chance, so there’s pressure on all of us. The next game at the Stadium of Light, we know what the atmosphere is going to be because we’ve created it ourselves.

“It’s a huge challenge for us, but what do you do? There’s no hiding place for any of us. There’s no quick fix.

“Is it easy? Is it going to be enjoyable? No, there will be a lot of pressure and stress. It’s a fight. I’m ready for it and I’ve got to make sure that everybody else is too, because we can still do it.”

n Steve Bruce admits it will take an “almighty collapse” for Wolves to miss out on promotion, despite seeing his Aston Villa side hammer the Sky Bet Championship leaders.

Third-placed Villa earned a 4-1 victory on Saturday to close the gap on their rivals to seven points.

Villa boss Bruce said: “It will take an almighty collapse for Wolves to lose out with the standard they have set, but it is the Championship and nothing surprises me.

“We played really well against Wolves who are a very decent team. It was a great advert for the Championship.”