DESPITE having to play a part in Sunderland’s latest extensive winless run, goalkeeper Lee Camp insists it is still all to play for in the battle to avoid the drop if the players can conjure up a way to forget the failings of this season.

The sixth defeat of the last nine matches without a win has left the Black Cats staring at a five point gap to safety with only nine games remaining of the Championship season - after Barnsley’s draw with Leeds.

A failure to look like winning matches has led to any optimism among the fans disappearing during this latest chunk of a longer term slump, with the chances of falling into League One growing by the game.

Prior to the latest defeat to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, manager Chris Coleman had suggested his team needed to win five of their remaining fixtures to stand a chance of staying up.

Now, with another game gone, Sunderland will head into this Saturday’s visit of play-off chasers Preston North End knowing they can’t really afford to lose again – for the 20th time this season, the 11th at home.

Rather than dwell on the negatives too early, Coleman is determined to focus on what can still be achieved instead of what could be on the cards in the summer if Sunderland’s second relegation in as many seasons is confirmed – and it’s rubbing off on the players.

Camp, on loan from Cardiff until the end of the season, said: “It is still only four points and it is all to play for. I think it will go down to the wire, I really do.

"We are not the only team in this situation, there are two other teams in the drop zone and a few teams above it that will all have the same feelings. Nothing is won or lost yet."

Bottom club Sunderland are two points shy of Burton and Birmingham who are sitting just above them, while Barnsley are three more points above the relegation line. There is then a two point cushion to Bolton and Reading, who must be confident of staying up after signs of spirt and fight, even if they are not out of the woods yet.

For Sunderland to stand any chance of playing in the Championship in August then they will need to find a way to shine in front of their own supporters, having won just twice at the Stadium of Light all season – starting against eighth-placed Preston on Saturday.

"It is a must-win game, simple as that. It is a difficult place at the moment and I understand people's frustrations but we all want the same thing,” said Camp.

"I don't think anybody wants Sunderland to go down, it would make it a lot easier if it was a fortress for away teams to fear coming to visit. We have to try and win the game.”

After the visit of Preston, Sunderland then face Sheffield Wednesday, Norwich, Burton and Wolves on Wearside, while they have away games pencilled in at Derby, Leeds, Reading and Fulham.

Camp is in line to reclaim his place against Preston following Jason Steele's red card at QPR.