Wilko blanks out relegation fear
By Adam Marshall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The Wearsiders head into a must-win North East derby with Middlesbrough knowing that their next four games will shape their destiny.
Following the Stadium of Light encounter with poor travellers Boro, Sunderland's March fixtures are against Fulham, Bolton Wanderers and West Ham.
Any repeat of the sort of performance that saw Wilkinson's men dumped out of the FA Cup at home to Watford will see relegation become virtually unavoidable for the basement club.
"I would say relegation is three from four because we are already out of it in my mind," he exclaimed.
"When I look at our fixtures, thankfully, they are against teams around us, which makes them better fixtures.
"I believe we are going to get out of it, and I am not too bothered who else is going to get out of it.
"I don't have to think about what relegation would mean to this club because I have been in the business a long time."
Meanwhile, defender Clifford Byrne has rejected a permanent switch to Scunthorpe United.
The 20-year-old has been on loan at Glanford Park, and a fee had been agreed between the two clubs.
However, the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international has decided to remain on Wearside, even though his contract is due to expire in the summer.
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