Wes Brown insists he is capable of playing two games inside four days, to ease Sunderland’s defensive crisis.
Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has a major headache at the back for tomorrow’s crunch basement clash against Aston Villa, with Younes Kaboul on the treatment table and fellow centre-halves John O’Shea and Sebastian Coates both injury doubts.
Allardyce has youngster Tom Beadling waiting in the wings, while full-back Billy Jones filled in at centre-half when Coates limped off in Wednesday night’s defeat to Liverpool.
But Brown - who penned a new one-year deal at the Stadium of Light in the summer - is the only senior central defender definitely available to face Villa, even though the 36-year-old has made just two appearances this season.
The ex-England international was far more assured against Liverpool than against Everton in November’s 6-2 rout, and insists he is physically able to start tomorrow, despite struggling to play two quick-fire games over the last 18 months.
Brown said: “Yeah, of course I feel I can play against Villa.
“When I first played against Everton, I hadn’t been training very much.
“But I’ve been training normally just like the rest of the lads.
“Obviously with my age, it’s not ideal to do that, but we’re very thin and I’m more than happy to do whatever the boss wants me to.
“At this stage of my career, I treat every game as if it’s my last one.
“If needed again tomorrow with the injuries we’ve got, I’d be up for the game.”
Defeat against Liverpool left Sunderland seven points adrift of safety, even though the opening 45 minutes was an improvement from the previous two tame defeats against Chelsea and Manchester City.
It makes tomorrow’s tussle with Villa all the more crucial, with neither of the Premier League’s bottom two realistically able to afford a defeat.
Brown added: “If we can win this one, it’s a big step for us and we can look forwards to the remaining games.
“It’s definitely a game we can’t lose, but more than anything we need the three points. “We’ve just got to stay together and keep going.
“If we show the same determination from the first half against Liverpool, we can look forward to some better results.
“We really wanted to at least get a point in the game, but it wasn’t to be.
“We’ve got to take the positives out of the game and take them into the next one.
“We’ve got to keep chipping away.”