Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has demanded more from his players as they put their Premier League futures on the line in another pivotal fixture at relegation rivals Swansea tonight.
The Black Cats, poised to confirm the arrival of Senegal striker Dame N’Doye on loan with a view to a permanent move, gave their survival hopes a recent boost by halting a run of five straight defeats with a 3-1 home win against Aston Villa in their last league clash.
Allardyce described it as a “nine-pointer” and made it clear where his priorities lay when making wholesale changes for Saturday’s FA Cup exit.
“There were seven changes but the team was worth £14m that started, so it wasn’t weakening the side by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.
“They were players bought for a lot of money, who haven’t played as much as they want and my demand is, and also for those playing on a regular basis, they all have to get better.”
For his part, Leon Britton makes his 500th Swansea appearance tonight, claiming it is one of the club’s biggest games for years.
Britton was part of the Swans side which escaped relegation from the Football League by beating Hull on the final day of the 2002-03 season.
And the 33-year-old midfielder has no hesitation in stressing the importance of tonight’s Liberty Stadium showdown, with only four points separating Swansea and Sunderland in the Premier League.
“This is right up there with anything going back years,” Britton said.
“We have never really been close to relegation—we have always had a little gap. But right now we are halfway through the season and one place above the drop.
“It’s dangerous and your home games against sides who are below you and want to catch you are massive.
“A win would give us breathing room.”
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