FORMER Clitheroe loanee Duncan Watmore has urged Sunderland to put a nightmare December behind them as they attempt to dig themselves out of Premier League relegation trouble.

The Black Cats slipped to a fifth successive defeat during the final month of 2015 when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Liverpool on Wednesday, a run which has left them seven points from safety and in danger of being cast adrift with the season only at its halfway stage.

They face a massive fixture against Aston Villa - the only club in a worse position - at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, and young striker Watmore knows things have to change soon if they are to rescue themselves.

He said: "It is not ideal and we have had a tricky run of games, but that is no excuse. We need to start winning games and picking up results.

"We have to stay positive. There is no point thinking about past defeats when we have big games coming up. We have to pick ourselves up quickly and give the fans something to cheer about.

"We know Villa is a big game, but you have to treat it as professionally as you can and play your own game. We know the situation, but we need to treat it as any other game and try and win, and that's what we will try to do.

"If we all apply ourselves properly, we can pick up three points. We are looking at three positive results to get out the bottom three. We know where we are and we need those positive results quickly.

"The only way we can do that is by playing well and having a positive outlook on it."