PLAYING in the hostile environment of the New Den should hold no fears for Sunderland’s players today according to boss Chris Coleman.

Millwall’s home is no place for the faint-hearted at the best of times, but Coleman thinks his players will find it easier than playing at their own home.

The Stadium of Light has become a morose place, with the club going almost a year – 364 days - without a home win.

And Coleman feels that the pressure of trying to perform in front of their own fans makes it ideal preparation for running out at the New Den this afternoon.

“I’ve had some great games down there at the Den – we all have stories about our experiences there,’’ he mused. “But playing here, in our circumstances, is much tougher than playing at the Den. That’s how it is with that much pressure on us.

“They have won three games back to back, (manager) Neil Harris is doing a super job, but it’s not a game to look at and think we can’t bring the goods back here. We have to have our own personality and input.

“Millwall is a test for everyone. It’s a bigger character test play here at The Stadium of Light in our situation. Everyone talks about Millwall, tight atmosphere, aggressive. I played there loads of times and used to love it.

“At the moment, playing here in this huge stadium in front of our own fans then that’s an issue. Not going there isn’t a test, we know it is, but we have to be used to that.’’

The Black Cats trained at the Stadium of Light yesterday and on Thursday because of the arctic conditions at the training base.

And Coleman hopes the unity displayed by everyone at the club – the manager joined office staff in clearing the pitch this week – can go a long way to improving fortunes.

He said: “It’s been brutal at times this week, but we have had everyone on the pitch. Groundstaff were here from half six in the morning, the chief executive was with me, our sports laywer, our secretary and everyone from Black Cat House was helping.

“You name a level at the club and everyone at that level was helping out, on the pitch clearing it.

“So it sums this club up, even where we are and how tough it is, everyone keeps going and mucks in. It was freezing cold but everyone is together and mucking in – it’s what a football club should be about.

“We all have to have our hands dirty and the players have done that in the last two games. It’s the four games before that when they didn’t.

“So it’s great to see everyone in it together. This is a great club, a big, big club and that sort of harmony and unity can work in your favour. Everyone had a giggle and enjoyed it.’’

He added: “The players trained well, the session was very good, and we want to turn it into a positive.

“For all the pressure that comes with where we are, there’s an element of every game being massive. Enjoy those moments depending on how you look at it. If you are afraid of giving everything you have got because there’s no guarantee of taking everything then these moments aren’t for you.

“If you aren’t afraid of defeat and failure on the back of maxing out and emptying out then enjoy it – this is for you. It’s an addiction is football even in this situation – you are always chasing that next happy moment, the relief of a win because it can change your life. We chase it and it will come.’’

There’s no sign of Jack Rodwell being available this weekend. The £70,000 a week midfielder is again absent, this time with a foot injury and he is not in the manager’s thoughts.

Coleman tellingly admitted: “No change. He picked up an injury in his foot, planta fascia, which kept him out for a bit in training. At the minute, I don’t even know if he’s back fit or training – I have absolutely no idea.’’

He will, however, have striker Ashley Fletcher available again. The striker was unable to face Middlesbrough last week under the terms of his loan deal from the Riverside, but comes into contention today.

“In the team, out the team, they all have to stay positive and focused,’’ added Coleman, who has Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria available after injury.

“There’s something bigger than any one individual here but they all have a part to play. I really like Ashley, he’s a top lad.

“Strikers have dips in confidence if they miss a chance, that’s natural. But he’s only had one full season at Barnsley before he moved to West Ham and then up to Boro on the back of that.

“It’s been hard for him to get settled and he’s only been here a few weeks, but he’s a good player and he will get better. Like all strikers he needs a goal to give him confidence, but he – like others here – will have a big part to play.’’