Mel backs Reid

Saturday 19 January 2002

Fulham captain Andy Melville believes Peter Reid will guide Sunderland out of their present slump - but not until after Saturday's game.

The Wales international played under the Black Cats manager before switching to Craven Cottage on a Bosman free transfer in 1999.

Melville returns to the Stadium of Light with Fulham for the first time tomorrow to take on a Sunderland team that have lost three of their last four games, including the FA Cup third-round home defeat by First Division West Bromwich Albion.

The 33-year-old defender expects Reid to halt the slide, but not until they face Middlesbrough in the Premiership on 29 January.

He said: 'Sunderland have experienced a lot of success and come on in leaps and bounds since he took over in 1995. I suppose that after the last few seasons they have had (when they finished seventh in the Premiership), they are having a bit of a bad time now.

'But it only takes a run of about three wins and they will be back up there. Hopefully, after they have played us, that will happen.'

Melville is looking forward to returning to Sunderland because it will be his first chance to show his appreciation for the way the club's supporters treated him in his three years there.

He added: 'It will be nice for me because I didn't really say goodbye to them. It was not certain I was leaving at the end of the season and then I left during the summer. Everyone knows how great their supporters are and it will be good to play in front of them again. It should be a good game and after winning our last two we are looking to put a run together.'

Lee Clark, another former Sunderland player, is out with calf and Achilles problems. Fellow midfielder Sylvain Legwinski is doubtful with a bruised leg and striker Louis Saha has been ruled out with a broken nose.