John O'Shea has told Sunderland's official site that Danny Graham is staking his claim for a first-team place.
Graham's days at the Stadium of Light appeared to be over earlier in the season, when he went out on loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers, but he has started to get more frequent opportunities this month.
The former Swansea City man has come off the substitutes' bench in four of the side's games since the turn of the year and his display in their 3-1 win over Fulham last night impressed O'Shea.
Graham looked lively up front throughout his cameo display, winning the penalty which led to Sunderland's third goal, and the Black Cats' captain clearly feels that he has a part to play this season.
“Danny's attitude has been exemplary and he's a fantastic lad in the dressing room,” O'Shea said.
“He's putting pressure on to start in the team and that's what we need from everybody. As competition increases, hopefully we get better performances.”
If Graham had been turning in these sort of displays nearer the start of the season, when Sunderland's options up front were more limited, he may actually have been granted the starting role he so desperately craves.
However, with the arrival of Jermain Defoe, there is now serious competition for places up front for the Wearsiders and Graham will have to continue to have an impact off the bench if he is to win a slot in the team.
The 29-year-old has still not scored a goal for the Black Cats since arriving in 2013 and unless this fact changes his departure remains likely in the summer.