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O'Neill fears Black Cats relegation

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill.

Kilrea man Martin O'Neill has admitted his Sunderland side are battling relegation, having won just two of their last 22 Premier League fixtures.

Monday, 03 December 2012
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The Black Cats currently trail in 17th place in the table - just one point clear of the drop zone, ahead of Southampton, Reading and Queens Park Rangers.

When Sunderland faced basement side QPR just over a week ago, they could only manage a nil-all draw at the Stadium of Light.

And with only a 1-0 home win over Wigan Athletic and a 3-1 victory away to Fulham under their belts this season, Sunday's defeat at the hands of their hosts Norwich City added insult to injury.

"We started off very tentatively and the first goal we conceded was poor and the second was even worse," O'Neill told his club's official website.

"Then before you know it, we were two-nil down before we even got started."

We haven't, at the minute, got enough points on the board and we have to rectify that.

Martin O'Neill

The game ended 2-1 to Norwich, but O'Neill said Sunderland squandered plenty of chances.

"In the second half, we came out and we played completely different and we should have taken something out of the game - the second half belonged to us," he said.

"We should have taken something from the game - it's very frustrating to come away with nothing."

But December will be a difficult month to make much needed improvements, with the fixture list including tough battles with the Premiership's current top four of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

"It is a battle for us and we have to pull through," O'Neill added.

"It was a battle last year and so, from that viewpoint, I'm hoping the experience they've got will stand them in good stead this season."

But taking positives from their second half performance against Norwich, the Black Cats boss insisted they just needed to stop gifting goals to the opposition.

"I said to the players at the end that, if we perform like we did in the second half, we'll be fine," O'Neill said.

"We're certainly not good enough to gift goals to teams and be able to turn that around - the top sides are able to do that, but we are certainly not a top side."

Sunderland are next in action at home against Chelsea on Saturday 8 December.

On Monday, the Black Cats were drawn against Bolton Wanderers in the FA Cup third round - with the game to be played during the first weekend in January.