Robbie Stockdale says Sunderland will be underdogs at Middlesbrough

Sunderland interim boss Robbie Stockdale says he “couldn’t have asked for a better game” than Sunday’s Tees-Wear derby against Middlesbrough to get their season back on track.

Stockdale takes charge for the first time since the departure of Simon Grayson earlier this week and admitted his side are underdogs who lack confidence, but expects the players to be motivated enough to get a win at the Riverside.

“If there is ever a game to get us back on track, this is it,” said Stockdale.

“I don’t think you could probably choose a better game for us to have. It could act as a catalyst”.

“We know it’s a tough game. I’ve still got family and friends who are Middlesbrough supporters, so that makes it even better for myself”.

Despite winning just one game from 15 this season, Stockdale insists the Black Cats’ problem isn’t scoring goals.

“We’ve got good players, we’re scoring goals. Usually when a team’s struggling at the wrong end of the table, it’s the goal scoring that needs to be addressed. It’s not,” he said.

“We certainly need to be more resilient in defence. We focused on that today. We’ve thrown away points.”

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The interim manager is all too aware of Boro’s good form, as of late, who recorded back-to-back away victories at Hull City and Reading.

“Middlesbrough are in decent form. The money they have spent in the summer suggests they’re at the top end of the table. I think they’re getting there,” he added.

“But I think we go into it as underdogs. Maybe that’ll help us, we’ll see on the day.”

However, Stockdale will look to his senior heads within the team to steer them in the right direction.

“We’ve got a really good mix of experience and youth. So I’ll be calling on some of the senior players to lead by example,” he said.

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“Sometimes the younger players go out there and play without any fear.”

In a message to the fans, the interim-boss said their support has been fantastic during his time at the club and appreciates their frustration.

“It amazes me the amount of fans we take to games. It amazes me the amount of vocal support that we get. Of course they’re not happy with the way things are going, rest assured none of us are,” he added.