Jonny Evans discusses whether he think former club Sunderland can still avoid drop

The former Black Cats loanee has backed the club's fans to help them battle to safety.

Former Sunderland centre-back Jonny Evans has told the Mirror that he has confidence that the club will retain their Premier League status and highlighted the role that the fans can play in achieving that goal.

Evans' current side West Bromwich Albion frustrated the Wearside club by holding them to a 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light on Saturday as the team just above the Black Cats in 17th, Norwich City, won to extend the gap to four points.

However, Sunderland still have a game in hand over the Canaries as well as a marginally better goal difference, two factors which could have a big role to play in the coming weeks.

Evans, who spent the second halves of the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons on loan at Sunderland from Manchester United, insisted that the club has what it takes to stay up and believes the supporters can go a long way to helping the club do just that.

The 28-year-old Northern Ireland international told the Mirror: "I’ve got an affection for the club and I don’t think that will ever go away. It was an enjoyable time of my life. I was young and just coming into the team. It was a great experience and I loved it. The fans have always welcomed me whenever I’ve come back.

"Staying up would be massive for them and I fancy them to do it. You saw the atmosphere they generated, it was very good and put the referee under ­pressure right from the first minute and you need that.

"The fans know they have a big part to play in keeping Sunderland up."

Failing to beat Tony Pulis' stubborn Albion side is a big blow for the Black Cats, who would likely have had a home clash with the Birmingham club pegged as one of their best chances for three points before the end of the season.

Sunderland next face title favourites Leicester City in a game which Evans' defensive teammate Younes Kaboul believes the club now have to win to ensure they stay in the race for survival.

It is the fixture after that one, however, which is likely to be the most pivotal in the final weeks of the season, as Sam Allardyce's side travel to Carrow Road to face Norwich.

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