Jones helps Sunderland get out of jail

RICKY Sbragia admitted that Sunderland got out of jail by taking three crucial points from Fulham after a first half display that he branded “disastrous”.

Ricky Sbragia

RICKY Sbragia admitted that Sunderland got out of jail by taking three crucial points from Fulham after a first half display that he branded “disastrous”.

Sbragia, who revealed after the game that he hopes to make his first January signing on Friday, was delighted with a result that put his side 11th in the table – but not with the performance.

Sbragia had claimed beforehand that defeat would have been a “devastating” blow in Sunderland’s battle to stay in the top flight. And Kenwyne Jones, who has just signed a new contract committing him to Sunderland until 2013, swept home the game’s only goal to hand the nervy Black Cats the crucial victory.

“I couldn’t go through that 45 minutes again. We were disastrous,” Sbragia said. “We were very poor in the first half – maybe there was a bit of credit to Fulham there. We gave the ball away too much and didn’t get things going. We played too deep; I said after 20 minutes

I’d be happy to get to half-time 0-0. I asked our players to try and get in their faces a bit more and stop (Danny) Murphy from dictating the game. It was a case of hanging on and trying to get the second.

I think it got a bit nervy towards the end but we defended well.”

The victory capped a good day for Sunderland, who managed to tie Jones down to a new four-year contract before the match – as revealed in The Journal on Tuesday – after turning down Tottenham’s bid of around £15m.

Sbragia: “He (Jones) wasn’t tip top against Fulham – he can do better but he scored a vital goal. He’s got lot to learn but he’s a handful. He deserves the contract. Without doubt we need him.”

Ahead of Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby, Sbragia hopes to a sign a defender with West Ham’s Calum Davenport and Portsmouth’s Hermann Hrediarsson on top of Sunderland’s wish list.

“We’re maybe talking about getting a little ‘yes’ from someone on Friday,” he said.

But keeping hold of their star striker might be the biggest deal that Sunderland can do during the transfer window.

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