Today’s visit of Southampton is the first of five games inside 14 days for Sunderland, with the Black Cats heading to Manchester United on Wednesday for the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg, followed by next weekend’s FA Cup fourth round clash against non-league Kidderminster.
Four days later, Stoke City visit the Stadium of Light, before Sunderland travel to St James’s Park in a fortnight, looking for a third successive derby victory over Newcastle United.
Phil Bardsley: “When you’re playing well, you want the games all the time – thick and fast.
“There’s another busy schedule ahead of us, with three games this week, then Stoke and then the derby.
“It’s a difficult run, but one we’re capable of winning every game.
“With the spirit we’re showing and the performances, I think we’re only going to get better.
“We’re trying to play the right way. The manager has brought in his methods and it’s nice to see everyone trying to make it work.
“The fans are doing that too. It’s not been easy for them, they’ve had a lot of managers in recent years, all playing different formations and stuff.
“But the way the manager wants to play now is quite unique and I think everyone is enjoying it.
“We’re in front in the two legs and we’ll go there and enjoy it, try to express ourselves the way we can do.
“There’s nothing to fear at Old Trafford any more, I don’t think.
“There’ll be all the pressure on them to get through because they’re expected to be in the final.”