CRAIG GARDNER insists Sunderland will not fold but "fight to the death" in pursuit of an upturn in fortune.
However, the Black Cats star has warned his goal-shy team-mates they must expand their attacking risk-taking if they are to fire their way back into form. Following a solid, if unspectacular start to the season, Martin O’Neill’s men have failed to win in their last five games, scoring just once.
They face bogey team Everton at Goodison on Saturday, with Gardner clear a lack of goals is a problem in need of improvement.
The Birmingham-born midfielder is also adamant “hope and confidence” remain high at the Stadium of Light and that a simple change of luck, along with a proactive performance on Merseyside, could be all it takes to kickstart Sunderland’s campaign.
“We need to take our chances but we’re not a team to fold, we’re not a team which is going to roll over and let people turn us over every week,” said Gardner, restored to midfield following a spell at right-back.
“The changing room is still full of hope and we’re still very confident. We’re going to go out there and fight to the death to get results.”
Gardner added: “You look at
some of the other goals in other games with other teams and they’re coming from nothing.
“I wouldn’t say it was a lack of confidence in players. You need luck. Football, life, is about luck and you need something like Robin van Persie against Arsenal, the cross comes in, they should have cleared it and it falls straight to his feet.
“We need that sort of luck and we’re not getting that at the minute. We should have had a penalty against Aston Villa with the Christian Benteke handball but we didn’t get it.
“We’re getting close to goal with chances but we’re not taking them. The lack of goals is a problem, it’s a problem we need to sort out.
“We need to score goals, we need to take risks.
“On the other hand we don’t want to go gung-ho and lose the (Everton) game 3-2.
“We’d rather not concede three goals but we have to take risks and we have to get points.”
Sunderland have not won at Goodison since November 1996 and have failed to beat the Toffees during their last 18 meetings.
However, Gardner added: “People talk about bogey teams and all that but you both start with 11 men,.
“It is 90 minutes and you have to match up and hopefully Saturday is the big performance we need to kickstart our season.
“It’s probably one of the hardest places to go to. The fans are brilliant and they have a strong team.
“The manager’s brilliant but we need to step up and take it to them and hopefully get the result.
“We need to have luck and score some goals but we’ll be fine. All you need is that bit of luck.
“If we score a goal, we score two then we score three and everyone is happy again and I hope we do that on Saturday.
“A season can swing from one big performance and hopefully that big performance will be this weekend.
Meanwhile, Black Cats striker Ryan Noble has extended his loan spell at Hartlepool United. The 21-year-old made the temporary switch to Victoria Park at the beginning of last month, and having scored once in seven starts for Pool, will now stay until December 8.
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