Etherington names former West Ham teammate Jermain Defoe as Sunderland’s danger man

Matthew Etherington believes Jermain Defoe could be the difference when Sunderland take on Stoke City.

The Black Cats face Stoke this weekend looking to kick-start their relegation fight, and Etherington has told the Sentinel that Defoe could be the difference maker in the tie.

The former Hammers midfielder said: “He's 32 now, but still a threat, and definitely one of the best I've been lucky enough to play with. With his low centre of gravity, he was always alive inside the penalty area, and what a clinical finisher.”

Defoe has yet to prove his finishing ability since his return to the Premier League in the January transfer window with Sunderland, with just three goals in 11 games to his name.

He did score the first goal of Dick Advocaat’s reign at the Stadium of Light, netting that impressive strike in the Tyne-Wear victory over Newcastle, although it was his wayward finishing which arguably cost the Black Cats a point in Advocaat’s debut loss to West Ham.

He will have to be far improved if Sunderland are to have any chance of staying in the top flight, as his goalscoring will prove vital to their fight for survival. Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham are forwards whose play is focused less on their goalscoring, and more on their work rate and attitude to the game, leaving Defoe as the only natural striker in that team.

He has already been at fault for missing clear cut chances in the West Ham loss, although his winner against Newcastle gave renewed hope to him. He will have to pick up in form to ensure Sunderland’s survival, and his inconsistent strike rate is the first thing that needs improving.

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