Craig Gardner

Gardner looking to finish on a high

Published:
by Stuart Vose

Midfielder focused ahead of final three games.

Craig Gardner says Monday’s reverse at Aston Villa has given the Sunderland squad a “kick up the backside”.

The Black Cats suffered a 6-1 defeat at Villa Park having recorded back-to-back wins against Newcastle and Everton.

We can’t dwell on Monday now – we have three games left, two of those at home and those games are cup finals for us

- Craig Gardner

“We’ve had three great performances, so to go to Villa and lose like that was a kick up the backside that we probably needed,” said Gardner, who returned from suspension to face his former side.

“For sure, it won’t happen again. Maybe it’s something we needed to kick us back into touch, but we need to get points and make sure we get over the line.”

However, while Gardner felt the defeat was a timely warning shot, he feels complacency is not an issue.

But he says there must now be fresh focus ahead of the final three games of the season.

“It’s not as if we’ve been getting carried away, thinking we’re this or that,” he explained.

“We can’t dwell on Monday now – we have three games left, two of those at home and those games are cup finals for us.

“We have to give every last little bit of energy in our bodies to get results – we want to finish the season on a high and hopefully get some good points out of those last three games.”

Sunderland host Stoke on Monday evening before another home clash with Southampton precedes a last-day trip to Spurs.

The Black Cats will be looking to reach the 40-point mark in their next outing – a milestone which Monday’s opponents have already reached.

“Forty points is the mark everyone wants to get to,” Gardner said. “Stoke will maybe be a bit more relaxed and we need to start like a house on fire.

“We have to give the fans exactly what they expect and I’m sure the gaffer will be kicking us up the backside as well.”