Martin O'Neill

O'Neill: Our confidence is growing

by Kate Smith

The boss previews the team's third away trip of the season.

Martin O’Neill says his side’s confidence is gradually building as their unbeaten start to the new season continues.

Sunderland have drawn all three of their league games so far, with away fixtures at Arsenal and Swansea preceding last weekend’s home clash with Liverpool.

Now the Black Cats face a third away trip in four games as they travel south to face a West Ham side who have enjoyed a good start to the new campaign.

I don’t consider West Ham to be a newly-promoted team, although that’s exactly what they are.

- Martin O'Neill
Sam Allardyce’s side, who gained promotion last season via the Championship play-offs, have announced their return to the top flight by bagging seven points from their opening four fixtures.

The Hammers boast a 100% home record so far and O’Neill is looking forward to returning to the Boleyn Ground to face a club he feels truly belongs in the Barclays Premier League.

“I don’t consider West Ham to be a newly-promoted team, although that’s exactly what they are,” he said.

“I always think of them as a big-league team and it is difficult to go there at any time.

“It’s a big game for us but I think we’re in fine fettle, although we’ll have to see what the rest of the week brings.

“The players are getting more confidence about their game.

“Against Liverpool, particularly in the first half, we matched them, broke on them very strongly and scored a great goal.

“These things give a team confidence both individually and collectively.”

Meanwhile O’Neill says he’s happy overall with his side’s start to the season and has seen signs of progress in all the games played so far.

And he feels there’s no reason why Sunderland shouldn’t head to London and attempt to take the initiative.

“In the game against Arsenal we were hanging on for dear life for the last half hour, while at Swansea the initiative was wrestled away from us in the second half,” he said.

“We should have regained it after their player was sent off, but it wasn’t to be. I’ve seen signs that our major players are gradually getting fitter.

“They’re coming on nicely now. We have a set of games coming up now and not only are we looking forward to them, I think we should go into them with confidence.”