MIgnolet upbeat over survival
Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is looking upwards rather than over his shoulder as he contemplates the Barclays Premier League run-in.
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The 24-year-old Belgium international is refusing to consider that the Black Cats can forget about relegation after collecting 13 points from the last 21 on offer to ease three wins clear of the drop zone.
However, Mignolet is setting positive, rather than negative targets after playing his part in a concerted revival, culminating in last night's hard-fought 0-0 home draw with Capital One Cup finalists Swansea.
Asked if Sunderland are now safe as a result of their recent run, he said: "I don't think we can speak in those kind of words.
"We just have to take every game as it comes and try to do our best in every single game, try to win the three points at stake and then we will see where we end up in the table."
"But there is still a lot to play for. It's not only looking backwards, also we can look above and there are still a lot of things to play for."
"Let's start by winning the game on Saturday."
Martin O'Neill's men will head for 19th-placed Reading at the weekend knowing they were far from at their best against the Swans, but buoyed by a solid defensive display which saw them scrap their way to a point which had looked beyond them for much of the game.
They were simply not at the races during the first half although the visitors, who saw appeals for a fifth-minute penalty for John O'Shea's challenge on Itay Shechter waved away, had only one chance of note when Mignolet turned defender Chico's snapshot around the post.
Sunderland improved markedly after the break without ever troubling keeper Gerhard Tremmel, but they might have lost the game nine minutes from time when Michu pulled the ball back for Nathan Dyer, but saw him side-foot his effort wide of the post.
Swansea looked odds on to snatch victory deep into injury time when substitute Danny Graham ran on to Michu's knock-down and fired towards goal, but Titus Bramble appeared from nowhere to make a match-saving block.
Bramble said: "It looked like the headlines were already written. But as a defender, you've got to throw your body at the ball and hope for the best.
"Luckily it hit me and didn't go in the goal."
It proved an eventful cameo for Graham, who had been booed by sections of the home fans as he replaced Leon Britton 16 minutes from time.
The 27-year-old has been linked with a move to the Stadium of Light throughout the January transfer window, which draws to a close tomorrow night.
Work is continuing behind the scenes to reach a deal which would see that become a reality, and O'Neill, who has insisted in the recent past that a Geordie could be successful on Wearside, is unlikely to be swayed by the reaction of a minority of supporters for whom Graham's boyhood affection for arch-rivals Newcastle represents an insurmountable problem.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup was a happy man, despite seeing two points which might have been his slip away, simply because his players had not been distracted by their cup exploits.
And he is looking for a similar attitude in the months ahead.
He said: "I have said maybe 10 times, until we have that magic 40 points, I don't want to talk about a new target.
"Of course, I am 100 per cent sure we will arrive to that number, and many more hopefully, but it is important for us to get there and then say, 'How many games left - eight, 10, seven?'. I don't know.
"Then we will set the next target for the rest of the season. I expect this performance in the rest of the games, but this is more or less the level I expect and more or less the level we have been playing at for the last couple of months."