“But I have to say I’d still be shocked and surprised if Sunderland stay up,” the 49-year-old has written in The Daily Mail. “It would certainly rank as one of Big Sam’s greatest achievements if he did it.
“Though if he does, he has to keep Jermain Defoe firing. Watching the game I had a sneaky feeling Defoe might win it for them. He still looks quick and sharp, and I don’t think age is an issue with him.
“If any defenders set to face him soon think he’s past it, think again. But Jermain needs to be motivated. There has been talk of selling him and I think that would be a mistake. If I was a manager competing with Sunderland and Defoe became available, I’d certainly snap him up.”
Keown was referring to Monday night’s Premier League game between Crystal Palace and Sunderland at Selhurst Park in London.
Sunderland did not play particularly well, but Defoe’s goal in the 80th minute proved to be enough for the Black Cats to pick up all three points from the encounter.
The 33-year-old is the main striker in Sam Allardyce’s squad, and he will be key for the team as the season progresses.
For Sunderland to retain their Premier League status for the 2016-17 season, they need to score goals, and Defoe will be hugely important in that.
Sunderland will take on Stoke City at the Stadium of Light in the league on Saturday afternoon.