SUNDERLAND, United Kingdom, April 15, 2011 (AFP) - Asamoah Gyan hopes to restore the feelgood factor at Sunderland by helping to end the winless run that threatens their Premier League future.
The Black Cats' record £13 million signing admits it's been hard to keep up his trademark smile and bubbly personality during the club's current slump.
Sunderland sat sixth in the table in early February and looked a good outside bet to mount a bid to qualify for next season's Europa League.
But since then they have lost seven of their last eight games, taking one point from the last 24 to plummet towards trouble.
They currently sit 13th - their final finishing position last season - six points above the relegation zone.
They travel to fellow strugglers Birmingham City on Saturday in the knowledge that Alex McLeish's 16th-place side could leapfrog them in a congested bottom-half with a win.
Sunderland face four of the division's current bottom five in their final six games, with chairman Niall Quinn promising a full inquest into why a season that promised so much is likely to deliver so little.
The unexpected departure of leading scorer Darren Bent to Aston Villa in January, a series of long-term injuries to key players and talk of dressing room disharmony have all combined to halt the club's progress, despite the £55 million on squad rebuilding by Steve Bruce in the manager's 22-month reign.
Ghana international Gyan has failed to add to his 11-goal tally since scoring in the defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in February. He admits the only way to restore a smile to the of Sunderland supporters is to bring a swift end to their unwanted run.
"If Sunderland need a win, then I need a goal. It's been a long time without one but as a striker bad runs like this can happen," Gyan said.
"You can talk all you like about how badly the results have gone and what might happen in the remaining games, but it all comes down to the fact that we need that win. If we get it, then it changes everything."
Despite their bad run, Bruce who was in charge at Birmingham for six years from 2001, insists Sunderland's first top-10 finish for a decade remains within reach.
"We've got six games left which on paper is a fantastic-looking run-in. We're capable of winning two or three of those and if we do, we could finish in the top 10, which was always our aim."
Kieran Richardson and Anton Ferdinand hope to overcome injury to figure, but Fraizer Campbell's knee problem has ruled the England Under-21 forward out for the remainder of the season.
Birmingham manager McLeish paid tribute to the job done by his predecessor Bruce at St Andrew's.
The Scot led City to a memorable League Cup final victory over Arsenal earlier this season, this after guiding them to their best ever Premier League finish last May following promotion.
However, the McLeish insists the job done by Bruce, whom he replaced midway through the 2007-08 season was equally impressive.
"People suggest I've surpassed what Steve achieved here and my response is 'have I?' He kept Birmingham in the top division for four seasons in a row," McLeish said.
"That was an amazing feat because I know the difficulties of managing a smaller club and the resources that go with that. They definitely punched above their weight during his time in charge."
David Bentley, Jean Beausejour and Roger Johnson are all expected to be fit for the hosts, while leading scorer Nikola Zigic could make the bench after a hip problem. Martin Jiranek (toe) and Obafemi Martins (groin) are out.