Ferdinand eyes top-seven finish
The Black Cats have put together a four-game unbeaten Premier League run since their horrific derby day capitulation at Newcastle on October 31 to establish themselves in seventh place in the table. Victory over Stoke and draws against Tottenham on the road and Everton at the Stadium of Light have been creditable enough, but it was a stunning 3-0 victory at champions Chelsea which went much of the way to restoring the confidence which had taken such a battering at St James' Park. Steve Bruce's men head for Wolves on Saturday having already played all of last season's top 10 and lost to none of them, although equally aware that it was after a fine 1-0 home win over Arsenal on November 21 last year that they embarked upon a 14-game winless run which ultimately cost them a place in the top 10 at the end of the campaign. Ferdinand said: "You can see in the confidence of the lads when we step out on to the pitch that we are not afraid to play against anyone. "That showed against Chelsea and again against Everton. "We can look higher than just finishing in the top 10, but we need to take each game as it comes, make sure we keep playing well and keep playing the way we have done. "Hopefully we won't get a patch like we did last season. If we don't get that, then we are more than capable of finishing anywhere within the top seven." Sunderland finished seventh twice in successive seasons under Peter Reid, but have not come close to repeating the feat during the ensuing years, which saw them yo-yo between the top two divisions until first Roy Keane and then Bruce steadied the ship. Wolves, under former Black Cats boss Mick McCarthy, are currently going through a similar process, although they go into the weekend sitting just one place off the foot of the table after four defeats on the trot. They have been criticised in some quarters for their style of play, but Bruce insists for all teams, the end justifies the means. He said: "It is tough and as we have witnessed this year especially. Every team can beat anybody on their day and all teams have got good players. "The teams underneath the so-called big four, for me, have got very, very good also. "Everton are a fantastic team, and then you have got Aston Villa, Tottenham and Manchester City, who have all invested heavily, even ourselves over the last couple of years. "From where we were two years ago to where we are now is, in my opinion, huge. "There are all sorts of teams whichever way they do it, it is results that count." Sunderland simply could not get a result during the depths of last winter, and the memories of that famine remain fresh for Bruce. He said: "It was quite incredible, really, but there you go, this Premier League can do that to you." The loss off first-choice central defensive partners Titus Bramble and Michael Turner with long-term injuries this week has come as a major blow, and the manager, who hopes to have record signing Asamoah Gyan back from his thigh strain, is ready to gamble on the fitness off John Mensah, who dislocated his shoulder just three weeks ago, alongside Ferdinand. But it is perhaps the experience and guile of 34-year-old Dutch midfielder Bolo Zenden for which has been most grateful in recent weeks. Bruce said: "Just at the right time after what happened up the road, he has come in and steadied the ship and shown what a fantastic player he is. "I just keep saying, I wish he was 25 and not approaching 35."