Belfast Telegraph

David Moyes hoping New York trip will help Sunderland make brand new start of it

David Moyes is hoping a trip to the Big Apple will bear fruit as Sunderland dig in for another Premier League relegation battle.

The Black Cats boss and his players will head for New York on a team-bonding exercise after Saturday's home clash with Southampton, ahead of what promises to be a tense run-in.

It will be far from a sunshine break - the forecast for next week includes snow and temperatures as low as -7C - but it will give the squad a chance to forge the kind of spirit they will need to scrap their way out of trouble.

Moyes said: "I've done it before. It's something different. I know it works. For the players, it's something to look forward to.

"I told them last week and I hope I get the same positive response as I did against Crystal Palace when I told them we were going to New York. If they can give me that again this week, then I'll be more than happy and I might even fix up something else.

"I don't know what I'm going to top it with, but look, we will go there and we'll train every day. We'll train differently, but sometimes at this time of the year, they need a little bit of a break as well and going to a training camp is not always the best idea.

"We will do other things - we are going to watch basketball, a few are going to the ice hockey... There'll be some, I'm sure, will go to Ground Zero where some of them have never been.

"The big thing for me is for us to get a team spirit where they look after each other on the pitch, but they begin to build relationships off it as well, so I am trying to help do both."

Whether or not it was the prospect of a trans-Atlantic trip which prompted Sunderland to produce the performance they did to secure a stunning 4-0 victory at Palace last weekend, Moyes will hope for more of the same when EFL Cup finalists Southampton arrive at the Stadium of Light.

Asked if the win had increased his belief that the Black Cats can avoid the drop, Moyes said: "I've always thought we had a good chance, but if the players play as well as they did do in the last game, I think it will give us an even better chance.

"They went to another level last week. Now, how often we can get that level between now and the end of the season will be crucial to where we end up."

If the pressure of the club's situation is getting to the squad, a group of players were able to put it into perspective this week when they visited five-year-old Bradley Lowery in hospital as he undergoes treatment for the rare cancer Neuroblastoma.

Jermain Defoe, John O'Shea, Sebastian Larsson and Vito Mannone spent time with the youngster, whose family later posted photographs including one in which he had fallen asleep cuddling Defoe.

Moyes said: "A lot of footballers get a bad rap and a lot of things said about them, but I'll tell you the truth, I didn't even know the boys were at the hospital (on Thursday).

"They were at the hospital seeing Bradley and it was great for them, but also maybe it makes them realise how lucky we are and that there are some things much more important than football.

"It's important to us - we want to win for the supporters and for the club, but there are other things out there as well."

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