TONY Mowbray had a "heart to heart" chat with his Sunderland squad after the midweek defeat to Huddersfield Town, with the players holding an inquest of their own leading Luke O'Nien to confidently predict an unbeaten run - starting at Millwall on Saturday.

The momentum the Black Cats built before the international break has disappeared after frustrating defeats to lowly Plymouth and Huddersfield, with the midweek setback particularly frustrating for head coach Mowbray.

But rather than panic, Mowbray and his players had a long, calm conversation on the back of Wednesday's setback in an effort to "get to the bottom" of the issues that proved costly in the last two outings.

Mowbray felt a crucial lesson was learnt in midweek after sensing his side perhaps underestimated Huddersfield. And while understandably frustrated - with his side slipping out of the top six and down to 11th after successive defeats - the boss is looking at the bigger picture.

"There's lots to be positive about with this team, we can dominate matches, dominate the ball," he said.

"We have shown that we can get lots of touches in the opposition box, lots of shots on the opposition goal. And yet the crucial thing is how many times you put it in the net, and we haven't done that well enough.

"I do feel we can find a way, we always have done in my period in that time at the football club.

"We had a long chat in the dressing room after the game. In the modern game, you tend not to do that often but there are certain times where you need to air your views. In the modern game, it's not about effing and blinding - though I have just seen a clip of Neil Warnock throwing his cups of coffee, amazing. But we had to get to the bottom of it.

"I know people don't want to hear it all the time, but at this club there is an inexperience about this group of players: How to get up for these games and recognising that these games that you have to win, they have to be your cup finals. Huddersfield at home is a game we have to win because you've got Millwall away, and then West Brom and Leeds who are flying.

"So with total respect, a game like Wednesday has to be your cup final. But an inexperienced player might look at it, Huddersfield at home, pass the ball around, we'll be fine. Then the clock starts to tick away and they score and all of a sudden, you're trying to react. We had a long heart to heart about it.

"Life is difficult, never mind football, and until you've experienced you don't really know, eh? You think you know, but you don't and I'm just trying to get across how important these nights are to the players. It's cold, it's freezing, and so you're not quite as full of that adrenaline. You have to make it your cup final, and I felt we struggled with that.

"I have to take some of the blame, because as you can hear in my voice I'm still not fully recovered from my chest infection," added the head coach, who had to miss training on Tuesday.

"I had a really bad couple of days before the game where I was stuck in bed, so it was difficult for me to get that urgency across to the players in the build up. The first 10,15 minutes I'm thinking 'come on lads', I could feel it, I've done it 100 times and I know what you need to do. It's my job to transmit that to the players and to inspire these guys to hit the level, but it was difficult for me on this occasion."


Mowbray now wants to look ahead and has urged his side to put the last week behind them with a positive result at The Den.

He said: "The opportunity is there for them and it's up to me to get that across to them.

"I've played in teams in the past where you go 1-0 down and you think it's finished, you're done. I've been there. This team should always believe that they can score and win, from any situation.

"I know the fans don't like getting beat and the players don't either. So that's why we had this chat, this collective chat. And Luke O'Nien has come to me and said they've had their own internal conversation as well. He's told me that they've sorted it. He reckons an unbeaten run starts now, so I'll hold him to that!"