Zat hoping for FA Cup boost after Elland Road setback

First published in Sport The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , chief football writer

AFTER a latest reality check in the Championship, Zat Knight is hoping this weekend’s FA Cup tie could provide some good cheer for a change.

Defeat against Leeds United on New Year’s Day plunged those around the Reebok into another week of introspection and analysis, not least the big defender who could not hide his own disappointment that at least a point had slipped through the net.

With a stuttering promotion chase put on hold for a weekend, Wanderers welcome Sunderland in Saturday’s third- round clash searching for another pick-me-up.

But this competition has not been kind on that front in recent years – Stoke at Wembley, Muamba at Tottenham – and Knight is cautious about predicting the outcome of this game could kick-start the campaign.

“It’s obvious our focus is on the league,” he said. “We want to get out of it and get into the play-offs, or maybe if we can kick on from there, top two, so be it.

“The FA Cup maybe gives the manager a chance to see other players. I think it’s a little bit of a distraction because there is a bigger picture.

“But it could be a good thing, too. It might give the manager a few options.

“If we do go through and there are some good performances then it might give a few people a kick up the backside in the league.”

The lows have outnumbered the highs this season, and Knight admits the defeat at Leeds did highlight some of the problems that need to be fixed in the squad.

“We need to be more hungry,” he said. “When we win, everyone’s on a high, when we lose, everyone’s on a downer.

“I think we need to hurt a little bit more.

“It’s like anything in life, when you do well, you enjoy it. And if you can take the good times and think about them when you’re playing badly, you want to get back to them.

“It’s not nice to go home and dwell on the game. Some of us do it for days.

“I’m someone who goes over my own performance and wonders if I could have done something better. It hurts me.”

Wanderers lost 2-0 the last time the two sides met at the Reebok in October 2011, and fought out a frustrating 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light in their unsuccessful fight against the drop. Knight sees no reason for comparing the club’s Premier League days. “We are where we are,” he said. “There’s no point playing against a Premier League side, beating them and thinking we’ve made it, because we’ll have Millwall after that.

“We have to realise we’re in the Championship – we lost against Leeds, we lost against Peterborough. There is no point pretending we’re something we’re not.”

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