Robbie Stockdale believes victory against Middlesbrough on Sunday could be the catalyst for Sunderland to turn their season around.
The Black Cats have won just one of their 15 Sky Bet Championship games this season and parted company with manager Simon Grayson following Tuesday night’s 3-3 draw at home to Bolton.
Stockdale, who came through the youth system at Middlesbrough and played for the club for seven years between 1997 and 2004, was placed in temporary charge at Sunderland and will be alongside Billy McKinlay in the dugout at the Riverside.
He claims the Tees-Wear derby clash is the ideal game for Sunderland, and told safc.com:
“It could act as a catalyst. I don’t think you could choose a better game for us to have.
“The players shouldn’t need much motivation for it and if you could choose a game it is the one I would choose.
“We should have more points than we have. That’s not to say our performances have been great but I believe we have certainly thrown away points.
“I don’t see a lack of effort from the players, but I do see a lack of confidence and quality which I am asking them to produce on Sunday.”
Garry Monk expressed sympathy for Grayson following his sacking but is only concerned about his Middlesbrough side securing a third successive victory.
The Boro boss goes into his first north-east derby clash on the back of wins against Reading and Hull, and he told mfc.co.uk:
“Sometimes, well quite often, the form book is thrown out of the window. We know Sunderland will come and give us a fight.
“We need to match that and then be at our best to take three points and go into this next international break in good heart.
“I think it’s a great shame what happened to Simon Grayson, he’s a good man and a good manager, and I know Robbie Stockdale came through the academy here, that often happens in football. But to be honest my only concern for this game is three points and giving our fans a performance.
“They deserve that, we know our performances at home sometimes haven’t been good enough. Let’s put that right in a game we’re all looking forward too.”
Monk Has Plenty Of Options For the Derby With Managerless Sunderland.
Fabio suffered a knock to his ankle during Tuesday’s Championship victory at Hull and was also unwell after the game, but is expected to be fit for the visit of the Black Cats to the Riverside Stadium.
George Friend, who replaced Fabio at the KCOM Stadium, will be standing by in case he does not make it as Boro go in search of a third successive league win.
Monk’s only absentee is striker Rudy Gestede, who is back in training, but not yet ready to return from a troublesome thigh injury.
Sunderland will arrive on Teesside without a Championship victory in 13 attempts since they won 3-1 at Norwich on August 13, although having drawn four of their last five games.
McKinlay and Stockdale will have only defender Tyias Browning missing as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Midfielder Paddy McNair, who scored a late equaliser in Tuesday night’s 3-3 draw with Bolton, has appeared as a substitute in the last two games following an 11-month lay-off with knee-ligament damage and will hope for a first start since November 19 last year.