AFTER a week when Sunderland’s preparations for Millwall have been hit by the bad weather, John O’Shea is hoping the team can deliver a performance to say thank you to those who got them some training time.

Had it not been for the members of non-playing staff who cleared the snow off the Stadium of Light pitch, with manager Chris Coleman offering a helping hand, the players would not have been able to prepare outside on Thursday and Friday.

They had done bits of training in the barn at the Academy of Light earlier in the week, while their schedule was cancelled completely on Wednesday because of the icy blast that has rocked the region.

But Sunderland headed to London yesterday afternoon after another outdoor session and O’Shea is grateful to everyone who ensured they could get some valuable training time in ahead of another important game in the relegation run-in.

“Everyone has had to come together in difficult weather circumstances, but everyone has done brilliantly to help and we appreciated what they did for us,” said O’Shea.

“It can be difficult to get the right numbers out for training, we needed good preparation for the Millwall game because we know how important it is.

“Little things like that might see you get some good luck and lead to things going your way, hopefully that will be on the pitch too.”

Sunderland certainly need a change of fortunes. Despite the last-gasp equaliser against Middlesbrough lifting spirits, they remain in a six-match winless run that has included four defeats. The displays against Boro and Bolton in the previous match have heartened everyone.

The five-point gap to safety needs to be reduced quickly because the games are running out to stay up.

O’Shea, with a travelling support of 2,000 behind the players at The New Den today, said: “We have to make sure the performance remains the same, we have to keep clean sheets and score goals. Wins are crucial now, we are at that stage.

“When you go down to Millwall you know about the challenge, we have to be ready for it. They have a good mix of experience and youth. We have to be up for it and we are looking forward to it.

“We have three games in seven days, the first and most important is the Milllwall game, let’s get a fantastic result there and take that into the next two games.”

After the trip to Millwall, Sunderland face Aston Villa on Tuesday before returning to the capital to face Queens Park Rangers next Saturday.