Cuellar sizes up Saints test

by Stuart Vose

Defender previews trip to St Mary's.

Sunderland defender Carlos Cuellar is gearing up for a pre-Christmas crunch as the Black Cats travel to Southampton this weekend.

Just one point and one place seperates the two teams in the Barclays Premier League table ahead of Saturday’s game at St Mary’s.

The second half against Manchester United – we need to try and find that from the first minute

- Carlos Cuellar

The fixture kicks off a busy festive period and Cuellar can’t wait to get stuck in.

“I am looking forward to playing there and this is one of the most important games so far this season,” said the Spaniard, who is heading into his first Christmas at the Stadium of Light.

“Southampton are a direct rival for us and we need to win with some other good games coming up.

“I think the team are ready and mentally strong.”

Sunderland head into the game following a 3-1 defeat at Manchester United last weekend.

Martin O’Neill’s side found themselves three goals down early in the second half but rallied to give United some real moments of concern in the closing stages.

And Cuellar says that’s something to build on against the Saints this weekend.

“The second half against Manchester United – we need to try and find that from the first minute,” the defender added.

“If we can do that then not many teams will beat us. The other players know that and everyone is ready for this weekend.”

The trip to Southampton is followed by quick-fire home clashes with Manchester City and Spurs, with both games taking place in a four-day period.

And Cuellar says a positive result this weekend would set the Black Cats up nicely going into the festive period.

“It’s important to start Christmas well,” he explained. “There is a lot of games.

“We have to be ready for every game and we are looking forward to it.”