David Moyes has insisted that there can be "no question" when it comes to his players' commitment this season, as Sunderland seemingly sleepwalk towards relegation from the Premier League.
Commitment not the issue for Sunderland - quality is
The Black Cats find themselves rock bottom of the table and are winless in eight, with a total of 12 points separating them from safety with just eight games remaining.
Although it is mathematically possible that they could still avoid relegation, it seems highly unlikely given they have amassed just 21 points from 32 games thus far and have not won since the 4-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace in February.
Moyes remains adamant that his players are giving their all, saying that he sees them "working hard" and "trying to win tackles and challenges" despite the poor results.
The Scotsman cannot deny however that his side are lacking "the quality" to win games at the moment, adding that the problem has been "getting the ball to feet at the right time, people making the right run."
Moyes believes Pienaar can be the difference
Victor Anichebe has returned to the side from injury in recent weeks and warned his team-mates that Sunderland run the risk of becoming too predictable if they simply look to hit him with long balls at all times, something which Moyes said he "totally agrees" with.
Moyes added that his side "can't have been that predictable because he hasn't been there for three months", with Anichebe's long-term knee injury seeing him fly out to America to work with a specialist.
Moyes said that the work needs to start from much further back, saying "we need to be able to play out from the back a bit better" and also adding that "we need our midfield players to be able to make good passes".
One man that could return to the side on Wednesday is 35-year-old midfielder Steven Pienaar, who has played a bit-part role for the Black Cats since signing on a free in the summer transfer window.
On being asked if he could make an instant impact, Moyes said that "Steven links up well with Victor" and insisted that "when they combine together we will get more out of Victor."