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Martin O'Neill believes the FA Cup draw against Bolton helped to build the foundation for Sunderland's emphatic win over West Ham on Saturday.
Sunderland, who are preparing to face Bolton on Tuesday night in the replay at the Stadium of Light, came from two goals down to draw 2-2 against the Trotters, knowing a tie against Everton was at stake.
The Black Cats then took the fighting spirit from the second half at the Reebok Stadium and used it to brush aside West Ham in their Premier League clash on Wearside last weekend.
The three points helped to ease their relegation fears and O'Neill was quick to laud the spirit shown against Bolton as the catalyst for the much-improved performance.
"The difference between our performance against West Ham and Bolton was obviously day and night," O'Neill said.
"We started sluggishly against Bolton and I don't think we can afford to do that, but against West Ham we started strongly and the most pleasing aspect for me was that we kept it going.
"For the most part, we were terrific.
"Our second-half performance against Bolton in the cup helped cement that. It gave us that lift, not only that we were still in the cup but the players felt that now they could move on."
Despite now having home advantage for the third round replay, O'Neill is refusing to take Bolton lightly and expects to field a team not too dissimilar from the side who impressed against the Hammers.
"We started brightly against West Ham and played well in that game but it means absolutely nothing now," O'Neill said.
"We play Bolton which will be a big test for us and they will think they have as good a chance as we have of playing Everton in the next round.
"Bolton's record in the cup has been very good in recent years and I think they will feel they are capable of winning the game.
"They certainly felt that during the last match. We've got home advantage at this moment and the crowd behind us and we will go into the game with plenty of confidence, but going into the game with confidence is no guarantee of anything.
"It's not something I would like to be making wholesale changes for because we're not in a position to be able to do that and we would like to treat the competition with some respect."
Sunderland received a boost on the eve of the match with O'Neill completing a loan move for Senegalese defender Kader Mangane.
The deal has been in the pipeline for some time, with O'Neill alluding to it at his news conference and the club later confirming the 29-year-old had signed until the end of the season from Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal.
Mangane joined Alfred N'Diaye in moving to Wearside during the transfer window, with O'Neill saying: "Kader is a player who will add to the overall strength of our squad and give us options. He will improve competition for places and we are delighted to welcome him to the club.
"We're short of players at the moment and what I'm hoping he will bring is competition for places, which is pretty important at any football club.
"But we have had a few injuries at this time of year and you don't want to leave yourself short.
"He is prepared to come and battle for a place in the team so that's encouraging. We're just adding competition for places and that will make us a bit more healthy."
However, O'Neill played down talk of a move for Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko, who has been linked to both the Black Cats and Newcastle during this transfer window.
O'Neill said: "I can talk about players who have come to the football club, like Alfred, or who are nearly there, but I can't talk about some player who might be a million miles away."