BAILEY WRIGHT claims Sunderland’s weekend win over Ipswich Town proves he and his team-mates can dig in to grind out a result when required.

Prior to the international break, a run of three successive league defeats had raised questions about the mental resolve of the Sunderland squad and their capability to match opponents who wanted to turn the game into a physical battle.

Saturday’s home game with Ipswich was a disjointed affair, but having scrapped their way through despite not being at their fluent footballing best, the Black Cats claimed a much-needed victory when Luke O’Nien and Aiden McGeady both scored in the final five minutes.

Tonight’s trip to Shrewsbury Town will raise further questions of Sunderland’s fortitude, with Johnson’s side having crashed to a 2-1 defeat on their last visit to Montgomery Waters Meadow in February, but Wright is confident his side have turned a corner.

“We’ve worked on a few things to become a bit more difficult to beat and have a bit more compactness about our play,” said the centre-half, who got the nod to start ahead of Tom Flanagan at the weekend. “I think we showed that against a good Ipswich side, who are a free-scoring team.

“I think, to a man, everyone dug in. At times, it wasn’t pretty, but we wanted to win that game and needed to win it, regardless of how we played. I think we stood up and did what we had to.

“There have been times this season where we have played some slick, nice football, and times that we haven’t. There are times where we have had to have a different set of tools and adapt to what games we are in, and I think we showed that with the goals we got, chances we created, and the way we defended as a complete team.”

Wright has had a hectic few weeks as he received a surprise late call-up to the Australia squad for their World Cup qualifier with China.

The defender did not play in the 1-1 draw in the United Arab Emirates, but having enjoyed his return to the international fold, he is desperate to do all he can to advance his claims for a place in the Socceroos squad should they qualify for next year’s World Cup.

“You have your short-term goals and long-term goals,” said Wright, whose last international appearance came more than two years ago in October 2019. “The short-term goals are to focus on winning games here, the medium-term goal is getting promoted, and the long-term goal is to go to the World Cup with Australia.

“The best way to give myself the best chance of that is to make sure I’m successful at the club I’m at, which is Sunderland, and we know the expectation is to get promoted. Ultimately, that is better for everyone.

“Winning is just a better life for everyone - fans, staff, players, anyone involved at the club, the community, everyone feels the benefit when the team wins.”

Sunderland (probable, 4-2-3-1): Hoffman; Winchester, Wright, Doyle, O’Nien; Evans, Neil; Gooch, Pritchard, McGeady; Stewart.