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Brown: Loss can be springboard

WES BROWN has challenged his Sunderland team-mates to reproduce their League Cup final performance to drag themselves out of relegation trouble.

For 55 minutes at Wembley, the Black Cats threatened to pull off a major shock as they led Manchester City 1-0 having enjoyed the better of the first half. But stunning finishes from Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri inside two second-half minutes handed City the advantage, and they eventually ran out 3-1 winners.

Sunderland could earn themselves another trip to Wembley this weekend when they face Hull in the FA Cup quarter-finals, but securing their Premier League status will be the main focus.

Asked what manager Gus Poyet had said in the dressing room after the final whistle, 34-year-old Brown said: "He just said, 'Listen, we have got important games coming up now and if we can play like that in the first half, we can play like that every week'.

"We have just got to take that in and make sure we do it in the league now.

"They scored two fantastic goals and managed to kill us with a third, so it was disappointing.

"But the lads can keep their heads up high and we have to start taking that sort of form we had in the first half into the league now."

Poyet will hope a display full of grit, character and no little skill will provide the springboard for a late-season surge, and Brown sees no reason why that cannot be the case. He said: "Yes, why not? We can do it against the big teams, so we have just got to keep it going against the teams around us now."