Cats win would be a start, says Roy
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24/09/2010 13:14 +0100However, he has dismissed critics who say his squad does not have enough quality to finish in the top four, insisting regaining their Champions League status remains well within their capabilities. Sunderland visit Anfield looking to capitalise on a tough week for the Reds which last weekend saw them claw their way back from 2-0 down against Manchester United only to concede late on. The midweek Carling Cup exit to League Two Northampton, albeit with an understrength team, has contributed to the despondency which appears to be enveloping the club from the outside. Liverpool are currently 16th in the table having beaten only West Brom in their opening five matches, lost twice in Manchester to City and United and drawn with Arsenal and at Birmingham. Their next two league matches against the Black Cats and Blackpool the following weekend represent an opportunity to get things back on track - especially as they are currently only three points off fourth place. But Hodgson knows it is what the team can do over the entire campaign which will decide whether they are successful or not. "It will take more time than a win tomorrow," said the Reds boss in response to suggestions the Sunderland game could turn things around completely. "It will certainly make my life a bit happier and I shall sleep a bit better on Saturday night if we get a win tomorrow - but we might not. "Nothing I can say changes the result on Wednesday or repair any damage done by the poor performance. "What will change everything is a good performance on Saturday, a good (Europa League) performance in Utrecht on Thursday and a good performance against Blackpool the following Sunday. "Maybe then there will be a totally different atmosphere and attitude." Hodgson accepts the team have fewer points than expected at the moment but, on closer inspection, claims the situation is retrievable. "You don't get wins because you talk about them or want them - Sunderland need a win too," he added. "They lost in midweek with their first team at home. They don't have many points on the board and there are a lot of teams in the Premier League that don't. "But I think mounting a challenge on the top four is a realistic target for us. "We haven't given ourselves the best possible start but there are still 33 matches to play and that is a lot of points to play for. "I will retain that as our realistic goal all the time we are within points touching distance of the goal." Hodgson argued that Wednesday's Carling Cup defeat, as humiliating as it was against a team 17th in League Two, was clouding judgments about the forthcoming Premier League match. He changed all 11 players in midweek and is likely to reverse that by reinstating the starting line-up which almost secured a draw at Old Trafford. That means a return for star performers Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Joe Cole and Jose Reina. "It doesn't have an awful lot to do with Saturday's game because none of the players who are playing tomorrow played on Wednesday," said the 62-year-old. "People will be very foolish to think that because Northampton have beaten the team they beat that the side tomorrow will be equally vulnerable. "I can understand that, having seen the squad players play on Wednesday night, criticism is going to be levelled. "But they shouldn't confuse Wednesday night's performance with the team which played against Manchester United and the team which will play against Sunderland. "Sunderland will be a new stern test for us tomorrow and I am pretty confident the players will come and show they are very good players - that is the best way we can get into the fans' good books."