CHRIS COLEMAN has acknowledged the impact Darron Gibson is having on Sunderland’s mini-revival by suggesting the Irish midfielder has become a crucial part of his plans.

Gibson has endured a difficult few years after he was hit with a serious knee injury during his time at Everton, and he has struggled to nail down a run in the Black Cats team since arriving from Goodison Park.

But the 30-year-old has played in all five games under Coleman, starting four of them, and he was impressive in the middle of the pitch against Fulham on Saturday.

He kept things ticking over in the middle, having a vital role in delivering a first home win on Wearside for 364 days.

Coleman has been impressed with Gibson’s performances since he took on the challenge at the Stadium of Light, although he thinks his last two against Wolves and Fulham highlight his quality.

“Darron was the only holding midfielder we had and he had to cover a lot of ground because Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman were running forward,” said Coleman.

“Gibbo not only covered a lot of ground but his decision making was excellent throughout, talking to the people around him and not leaving the centre of the pitch unless he really had to. He was crucial at Wolves and crucial again against Fulham.”

Gibson’s display at Wolves, after Lee Cattermole’s sending off, and then against Fulham raises the question over whether Cattermole will find it easy to get back into the team after serving his suspension.

Cattermole has struggled this season and in recent home dates the hoodoo seemed to have got to him on the pitch, even if he was not the only one.

However, the Sunderland manager said: “We are going to need everybody. We are going to need Catts. He is no different because he has bags of experience. Sometimes you want to play with two holding midfield players depending on how you want the team to go.

“We need Catts back and we need him fit. He will have a job to do as well. With him and Gibbo in there we probably looked more solid at Wolves, who had been scoring freely. We didn’t have two natural holding midfield players on Saturday but I am pleased with Darron and how he is playing.”

Sunderland have now won two of their five matches under Coleman, losing two. More encouragingly, though, they have also kept two clean sheets in a row and winning at the Stadium of Light has lifted everyone.

Coleman said: “I felt it two weeks ago losing to Reading, but the supporters came back again and they have stayed here to support us. I was desperate to give them something to smile about.

“You could feel the delight when we scored on Saturday. The four minutes of injury time went up and lasted a long time, but when you get through the nervy moments that can help bring the group closer together. I think we deserved it. The fans were ecstatic and I would be the same as them if I had waited that long.

“The next game is at home against Birmingham. We can’t think that everything is OK now we have won at home. We have to build on this because next week is even bigger against a team around us. We have to go into next week with the same appetite, with a little bit of fear because a little bit of fear is good for you.”

Coleman knows that he has a lot to change during his time in charge but he does not want to focus too far ahead until he knows the more immediate goal is achieved – Championship survival.

He said: “Relegation was a huge hangover for the club. Simon Grayson’s record of promotion, you can see why he was here and he will probably go on and do well somewhere else. I have come in and I am different to Simon. The way I work is the way I work.

“You hope and pray in the short term it works because otherwise the long term never arrives. The signs have been quite good. We are not getting carried away. Three clean sheets out of five is fantastic. We have to keep getting better and keep working hard.”