Chris Coleman: Sunderland's match at Bolton Wanderers 'game of season', says boss
Tuesday's game at fellow Championship strugglers Bolton Wanderers is Sunderland's "game of the season", says manager Chris Coleman.
The Wearsiders were beaten 2-0 by Brentford on Saturday - their 16th defeat in 32 league games this season - to stay three points adrift of safety.
Bolton are three places above the Black Cats and four points clear of the drop.
"There is a lack of cohesion and confidence, there are nerves," Coleman told BBC Newcastle.
"It's not the time of the season to have that problem and we can't afford that. Tuesday's game is the game of the season for us. It'll be a big test."
Coincidentally, Sunderland's corresponding fixture against Bolton in October 2017 was the final game under Coleman's predecessor Simon Grayson.
Home form has been an ongoing problem for Sunderland, with just two home league wins in the past 26 games.
A 3-3 comeback draw at Bristol City on 10 February was a chink of light in their battle against the drop, but the Brentford loss was a sobering reminder of the task that lies ahead if they are to achieve that feat.
"It's painful for everyone, we're all suffering," the former Wales boss added. "It's been the same theme - especially at the Stadium of Light where wins have been precious.
"There is no place for shrinking violets. If you can't cope, don't pretend you can.
"It's only the strong who give you chance of fighting when you're in the position we're in."