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The Black Cats' boss believes complacency, after watching their rivals drop points, was the reason behind his side's 6-1 thrashing at the hands of fellow strugglers Aston Villa

Paolo Di Canio believes Newcastle and Wigan dropping points last weekend allowed complacency to creep into his Sunderland players at Aston Villa on Monday.

The Black Cats were on the end of 6-1 thumping at Villa Park which helped Paul Lambert's side draw level on points with Di Canio's men, five points away from the relegation zone.

The Italian believes watching their bottom-of-the-table rivals fail to secure three points caused his players to lose focus ahead of their fixture against the Villans.

"Complacency was one of the reasons, to add to others," Di Canio told the Sunderland Echo.

"We had two wins in a row and were big heroes in the city. A poison developed, albeit a positive one, after two wins in a row. Then, after the weekend results for Wigan and Newcastle, we knew we were up if we won the game.

"In the way we analysed the game on Tuesday, there was an agreement that we relaxed too much after seeing the results for Wigan and Newcastle. The results were good for us in a way, but they were a poison for the performance at Villa Park.

"You can see that we received a strong slap from Aston Villa. We have to make sure that doesn't happen again, otherwise we will remain in trouble."

The 44-year-old also lamented the fact he has been unable to rotate his squad adding: "The players we've used have mainly been the same.

"That looks like an excuse, but it's not, because I knew before I took this team that we didn't have many players. But there wasn't a habit to win two games in a row, after nine games without winning, including Chelsea.

"Then to win at Newcastle after 13 years, the players know about the club's history, especially the ones who live around here. And then after the Everton win, we had nine days to think about things. We'd spent a lot of physical and mental energy and relaxed 20%, but now we're okay."