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May 19, 2009

Sbragia confident Sunderland will avoid the drop

Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia has insisted he is confident they will not be dragged into the relegation zone on the final day of the season.

The north east club missed the chance to ensure their safety on Monday night as they threw away a lead at Portsmouth to go down 3-1. It means they can be relegated on the final day if both Hull City and Newcastle United win and Sunderland fail to do the same at home to Chelsea.

"I do believe we will stay up. We could always beat Chelsea," said Sbragia. "There is always the belief we can do it. They might have their minds on the FA Cup final. I don't know what team they will pick but we know what we have to do.

"The players are down but you just hope they have that ambition to stay in the Premiership. The players should want to do that. They were in that mood but they need to be stronger against Chelsea.

"We will need to score more than one to beat Chelsea on Sunday.

"In the first half against Portsmouth we did reasonably well and created a few chances but it was the same old story, we didn't finish them. That always comes back to haunt you.

"We have got a difficult game. Hull have a difficult game against Manchester United and Newcastle have to go to Villa. None of them are easy games and if you win one of those you deserve to stay up.

"A draw may be good enough but it is going to be a difficult up-and-down Sunday for us. We cannot afford to lose it, that's for sure.''

Despite Sbragia's comments, a point is actually no different to a defeat for Sunderland. Due to their superior goal difference they can only be relegated if both their rivals win. And if that happens a point would send Sunderland down as their goal difference is already inferior to Newcastle's.

Sbragia does not fear for his job if results do not go Sunderland's way at the weekend.

He said: "You could win it and be sacked, you could lose it and be sacked. I could be knighted. Who knows? I just know I will give it my all and I hope the players do the same.''

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