'We are not in awe of Chelsea'
Steve Caldwell returns to the Sunderland side for the visit of Premiership leaders Chelsea to the Stadium of Light tomorrow declaring 'We are not in awe of any club'.
The Black Cats have accumulated just six points from 20 matches and are a staggering 13 points behind fourth from bottom West Brom, fast running out of time to prevent an instant return to the Coca-Cola Championship.
But Caldwell, suspended for last week's welcome victory over Northwich Victoria in the FA Cup, sounded the rallying call in a bid to cause possibly the biggest upset of the season.
'There's no chance of us being overawed by them,' vowed the Scotland international defender.
'I've never been overawed of any player in my life.
'I respect top-quality players and whoever of the 22 players or so they have at Chelsea plays tomorrow, I will look forward to the challenge.
'We are sitting at the bottom of the table with just six points and almost beginning to be cut adrift of the rest. Another couple of defeats and one or two of the clubs just above us picking up points will make it even more difficult.
'But there are still points there to be got and while time is running out, we have got to keep believing. We can't give up hope until it is mathematically impossible.'
Caldwell, however, is realistic enough to accept a first home league win of the season is unlikely considering the massive gap in terms of points and quality in the Chelsea side.
'They are one of the best teams in the world just now,' he said.
'They are totally focused and never seem to drop their guard for one second. But we have to worry about ourselves, make sure we give our all and impose ourselves on the game.
'We know their quality but we can't dwell on it too much. It's a massive task, top versus bottom but we want to prove there is still a lot of quality throughout the Premiership.
'We can cause problems for any team. We rattle people as well as having our own quality and while we may need a bit of luck, there's always a chance.'
Manager Mick McCarthy also believes the outcome is not as clear-cut as the form book may suggest.
'We are poles apart in terms of financial clout and the group of players that they have got but that doesn't mean it becomes a foregone conclusion,' he said.
'Nobody before the Northwich game thought it was a foregone conclusion, one or two were suggesting it might possibly be an upset, but Chelsea will be beaten at some stage.
'I don't think for one minute they are coming here thinking they will get beat but I have been in teams that thought that. It certainly does happen but I don't think they will come here treating us lightly and not properly prepared.
'That's never going to happen with that group of players and Jose Mourinho as manager. Start going through their players with what we have got, with what they have done and what we have done, to say we will win will be mocked.
'If we give one of our best performances of the season and they in any shape or form don't play as well as they can, and we carry a bit of luck, then it can happen.'