Football - Team's plight mystifies Mignolet

Simon Mignolet admits he cannot believe Sunderland will head into Sunday's derby trip to Newcastle facing a desperate fight against relegation.

PA Sport

The 24-year-old Belgium international has been arguably the Black Cats' stand-out player during a difficult campaign, but even his heroics have not been able to prevent the club from slipping into the thick of the scrap for top-flight survival.

Defeat at St James' Park would leave Paolo di Canio's men in deep trouble with just five games in which to save themselves, and when Mignolet looks around the dressing room, he finds that situation difficult to fathom.

Asked if he was surprised at their league position, he said: "Yes, if you see the individual qualities of every single player.

"Obviously, we didn't hope to be where we are now. With the qualities we have, we shouldn't be there."

However, Mignolet's belief that the players, whose performances so far this season cost former manager Martin O'Neill his job a little less than a fortnight ago, are better than results suggest means he is confident they can dig themselves out of a hole.

He said: "Yes, of course, that's fair enough to say. We have more than enough ability in the team to get the points we want before the end of the season."

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