PHIL Bardsley admits Sunderland are “struggling” to get the best out of their “guile and flair” players and has called on all of his team-mates to start supplementing Steven Fletcher in the goalscoring stakes.
However, after a “vital” clean sheet at home to QPR on Tuesday night, when his side demonstrated their “work ethic” if not their ability to turn possession into victory, the Black Cats defender insists they will persist and prevail.
Even if it takes a goal “off somebody’s backside” to affect an upturn in the club’s fortunes.
Sunderland stood 16th in the Premier League table before last night’s fixtures and travel to Norwich City on Sunday with just one win in their last eight league games.
However, Bardsley said: “The work ethic is there.
“There are times where we have comfortable possession but the opposition has everyone behind the ball, so at times we need to force that pass and create something.
“That means giving the ball away sometimes, which is frustrating at times.
“We have to try and pass the ball forward and get it to the players with a bit of guile and flair. We have to get them on
the ball in the right areas and at the minute we’re just struggling to do that.
“If it’s not going great it’s difficult to do that but we have to keep plugging away and I’m sure it will come.”
Bardsley added: “We took a point out of Tuesday’s game, which is the main thing.
“We really wanted three points but it wasn’t to be. A point is better than nothing and we got another clean sheet, which is vital.
“At the other end we need to score goals. We can’t just rely on Steven (Fletcher) to score goals every week for us.
“Others have to come to the party and against QPR we created a number of chances which we were really unlucky with but it’s not for a lack of trying that we’re not scoring goals.
“Sometimes a shot has to go in off somebody’s backside or something like that. At the minute it’s just not happening.
“The lads are working their socks off and running about trying to win the game, but little things are not quite coming off.”
That much was true of Simon Mignolet during Saturday’s defeat to West Brom, when two uncharacteristic errors by the Belgian goalkeeper led directly to Sunderland conceding goals.
However, Mignolet was back in form on Tuesday night and Bardsley believes the club are lucky to have such a talented footballer.
The full-back said: “He’s a top goalkeeper.
“We’re fortunate to have a goalie like Simon at this club and he’s pulled us out of trouble enough times this season and over the last two seasons.
“He’s allowed to make a mistake every now and then.
“We’re fortunate to have a keeper like that on our hands. He’s top drawer.”
Amid injury blows which have deprived Sunderland of captain Lee Cattermole (knee) and John O’Shea (calf), Matt Kilgallon made only his second appearance of the season against QPR.
Bardsley added: “We’ve had injuries to senior players in Lee on Tuesday and John on Saturday.
“Hopefully they are not serious, fingers crossed. Hopefully, they will come through.
“We’ll have to wait and see but if they are doubts it’s up to other players to come in, like Killer did on Tuesday.
“I thought he was terrific. It’s up to players to fill those boots.”