JAMES McCarthy insists the the competition for places at Wigan Athletic will play a big part in propelling the side up the Premier League table.
Roberto Martinez made five changes for the weekend draw with Blackburn, and was rewarded with a vastly-improved display that should have resulted in three points.
McCarthy was one of those drafted in, after several weeks on the sidelines following fitness and form issues.
And the Republic of Ireland international believes the team should be picked on form rather than reputation.
“It is a squad game, and when the gaffer makes changes you just need to take it on the chin, really work for another chance and when you get it try and make sure you stay in the team,” McCarthy said.
“It was a good performance from everyone against Blackburn, we just didn’t get the rub of the green.
“The gaffer wanted us to keep the ball and have a good tempo about our play, and I thought we had that.
“We were passing the ball around nicely, but it was another frustrating day at the office.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t go for you, and it certainly didn’t go for us on Saturday.
“We’re down at the moment but there’s still a long way to go, and we just need to pick ourselves up.
“We were back in yesterday and I’m sure we will lift ourselves for Sunderland on Saturday.”
The trip to the Stadium of Light will be another massive test for Latics, who seem to have been playing nothing but six-pointers for the past couple of months.
The Black Cats are also struggling of late, leading to Steve Bruce labelling the visit of his former club as ‘must win’ for the Mackems.
“Every game until the end of the season is massive,” McCarthy insisted.
“We will go to Sunderland and give it our best shot. It is a tough game and they will be fighting like we are.
“We are all down at the moment, but we‘ll pick ourselves up and try and kick on next week.”
McCarthy also called on the Wigan fans to make the trip up to the north east after making their presence felt last weekend.
“The fans were different class,” he acknowledged.
“That is what you want from the fans week in week out at home and they were something special on Saturday.
“I hope they can keep coming in their numbers and hopefully we can give them something to cheer about.”