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Stern John is confident an injection of Caribbean cool has given Sunderland a considerable advantage as the heat begins to rise at the top of the Championship standings.


The 30-year-old struck his third goal in six games as the Black Cats secured a vital win at West Bromwich Albion at the weekend and, with Dwight Yorke also on the scoresheet, the influence the club's Trinidad and Tobago internationalso had on a critical fixture was decisive.

It is not just on the pitch that the Soca Warriors are aiding Roy Keane's promotion bid, with the Irishman having identified the calming effect his Antilles imports have had on the dressing room.

There are few footballers as laid back as Yorke. And John believes such cool-headed qualities could prove crucial in the club's bid to recover Premiership status.

"Dwight's more laid back than me," said the striker, who along with the former Manchester United favourite and Carlos Edwards makes up Sunderland's Trinibagonian triumvirate.

"Dwight's so laid back he's horizontal. I'm not that bad, I'm somewhere in the middle, maybe around 45 degrees.

"But it's good to be laid back sometimes. This is an important time with so many clubs trying to get into the Premiership. That's why the manager has brought in the players he did. He wants us to keep calm and that's what we're trying to do."

Sunderland's supporters have embraced their Caribbean connections and Trinidad and Tobago flags have begun to appear with increasing frequency among the Wearside support. It has not gone unnoticed on the pitch.

"I'm still settling in but the fans are making it easier," said an appreciative John. "When I look into the crowd and I see Trinidad and Tobago flags, it gives me goose bumps. I just want to repay the fans for that." Such has been the interest in the exploits of John, Yorke and Edwards on Wearside, 200 members of the Trinidad and Tobago official supporters club are planning to travel to the North-East for next month's home match against Wolves. A steel band is expected to accompany them.

By that time, a Sunderland side growing accustomed to playing a winning tune could be in pole position in the race for automatic promotion.

"If you're going to go on a run, now's the perfect time to do it," added a player yet to taste defeat in a red-and-white shirt. "You have got to stay in contention throughout the season but this is the time to go for it and that's what we're doing. If you're going to peak as a team, you want to do it at this stage.

"This was a massive win for the team. West Brom have been playing some fantastic football and to get a win here shows the attitude of our team and how much we want to win whenever we play. I suppose you could say that it was a game won in Trinidad.

"I have played with Dwight for so long that we both know each other's game and we complement each other really well. But it's not just about us. We have gelled together as a team and the whole team is working really hard. I think the best is still to come."