Sunderland full-back Phil Bardsley has praised the influence of Gus Poyet and the impact that he has had on the squad.
Sunderland are currently on a four-game league and cup unbeaten run and are now only six points behind Hull City, who sit in 10th position.
Such a sequence represents a remarkable change in fortune, considering the predicament that the Black Cats were in before the arrival of their Uruguayan coach.
Bardsley credits Poyet with having helped to turn the tide and is now quietly optimistic regarding their chances of securing Premier League survival.
When asked whether he believes the North East outfit can beat the drop, he told the Sunderland Echo: "Absolutely, we're in our own mini-league and if we win on Saturday against Southampton, we're three points behind Hull in 10th. That's unbelievable when you look back three or four weeks ago.
"We need to just focus on ourselves and win as many games as possible.
"You've got to have a very good team spirit. I think that was beyond dead six months ago, the manager came in and gave the players a new lease of life and everyone is taking their opportunity."
Speaking about his exile from the first-team under Paolo Di Canio's regime, Bardsley added: "As everyone knows, it was a difficult summer, especially playing in the U21s.
"But when the manager called me back into the squad, I knew I had more to offer this football club.
"I'm thankful for the opportunity he gave me and I thought I had to repay him with performances. Hopefully I'm doing that."