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Norwich could find themselves drifting towards relegation under Chris Hughton, writes Adam Bate.
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Roy Keane was pleased with his players' effort after Sunderland collected a vital three points by beating Bolton 3-1 at the Stadium of Light.
The classy Kieran Richardson and Kenwyne Jones gave the Black Cats a 2-0 lead, but El-Hadji Diouf pulled one back just before half-time.
Keane then had to watch Sunderland withstand tremendous second-half pressure, before substitute Daryl Murphy secured the win after being played through by a Jones' header.
Keane was delighted with the gutsy performance which saw his team lift themselves out of the Premier League's bottom three.
Praising his players' commitment "especially in the second half", he said: "We had the game won really in the first half. We were two-nil up and in control and then we gave a sloppy goal away.
"(There was) plenty of commitment from the players. Again they showed good character after bouncing back from the four-nil defeat the other day."
While admitting there were elements of his team's play which left him "a little bit" frustrated, he believed the result was the most important thing.
"The priority I think when you are down there obviously is to try and get results," said Keane.
"I have to say we have played a lot better than that and not got the results we thought we deserved, so today we have shown another side to us, especially our defence has been heavily criticised of late, but they showed great stuff the second half today.
"Of course, there's parts of the game where we would have liked to have done better - we should have kept the ball more and caused them one or two problems but Bolton are a very strong and experienced team and they put us under lots of pressure."
He admitted that playing man-of-the-match Kieran Richardson from the start was "a big gamble".
"It was a big gamble because Kieran has been off for a long time," said Keane, adding Richardson "came up with the goods."
"He scored a good goal and that will help him because he came to the club with big expectations and he's had a major injury that has set him back. Today will do him the world of good," believed Keane, who also praised the significant contribution of Jones, who also scored one and made an assist.
Despite reports linking his club to midfield workhorse Robbie Savage, Keane would not be drawn on possible targets when the transfer window opens on 1st January, although he admitted they are hoping to make "one or two signings next week".
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Andre Villas-Boas has dashed Sunderland's hopes of turning Danny Rose's loan move into a permanent deal.
Sky Sports sources understand that Sunderland and New York Red Bulls are in talks over a loan move for Tim Cahill.
Tottenham cemented their place in the Premier League top-four as Aaron Lennon sealed a 2-1 comeback win over Sunderland.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill admits his team's recent performances may have caught up with them.
Man Utd ended 2012 with a seven-point lead, as Man City edged out Norwich City in a thriller and Arsenal hit seven past Newcastle.