Darren Bent feels Sunderland are capable of pushing for a top-six finish, provided they remain focused.
The Black Cats have clambered into the European places on the back of a consistent start to the 2010/11 campaign.
They may have been mauled 5-1 by local rivals Newcastle in the Tyne-Wear derby, but that defeat is one of just two they have suffered this season.
That is less than Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City, suggesting Steve Bruce has moulded Sunderland into a resolute outfit.
A 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge last weekend proved they need to be taken seriously, with that success helping to lift the North East club into sixth place in the Premier League table.
Bent was unavailable for the Chelsea game as he continued to nurse a hamstring problem, but is closing in on full fitness again and could be back for Monday's meeting with Everton.
The England international is hoping to help fire the Black Cats into continental competition, but admits it is important that the club do not get ideas above their station too early in the season.
"We aren't going to get carried away," he told Sky Sports News.
"I'm sure people will start saying that we should be aiming for Europe. We are just taking things one game at a time and if we can get in a position to do that at the end of the season, we will be delighted."
The busy festive period can often make or break a season and Bent admits Sunderland's European ambitions could rest their ability to make it into the New Year unscathed.
"Especially after the start we have had, we have had some tough games in this first period," he added.
"This is the period that we let ourselves down last season but if we can get ourselves out of it, I'm sure we will be fine."