Vito Mannone admits Sunderland have to treat every game like a Champions League final if they want to stay in the Premier League.
The Black Cats hauled themselves out of the relegation zone on goal difference courtesy of a creditable home draw with Arsenal on Sunday and, with four games remaining, are in pole position to beat neighbours Newcastle and Norwich to the last safe spot.
However, the 28-year-old Italian goalkeeper Mannone knows there could yet be more twists and turns in the race for survival and is aware he and his team-mates can leave nothing to chance.
Mannone said: “It’s a strange feeling. You go in with pressure, but if you manage to change the pressure in a positive way and really push to do something special, really it feels like a Champions League final every game.
“I know we are fighting for the Premier League, but that’s our Champions League, really, in our heads.
“All we have to do is stay positive and wait for another final to come. Stoke next is another three points. That’s what we have to do and as we have learned from the past survivals and from other teams like Leicester, you don’t care who you play against, you just go out and try to win the games.”