Writing in his regular column, Carragher highlighted how no other team in the bottom six has a player of Defoe’s capabilities and keeping him in form will ultimately determine Sunderland’s fate.
“Suddenly the feeling is growing that Sunderland are going to stay up and, if they do, it will be down to their main striker. Defoe will carry them out of it if he gets the right kind of service,” Carragher wrote.
“Allardyce is not stupid and he will know that an in-form Defoe gives Sunderland an edge on all their rivals at the foot of the table.”
“Chelsea (28) are the only side in the bottom eight to have scored more than Sunderland (26) and if that is the case in May, Sunderland will be safe.”
Defoe, 33, found himself out of favour at the beginning of the campaign and upon Allardyce’s appointment as manager, the former Bolton boss also reserved fears regarding his style.
Does Defoe’s presence up top leave the Black Cats light in midfield? It was an intriguing point, and one which came to the fore after Sunderland were hammered 6-2 by a rampant Everton side in early November.
But since then the Black Cats have improved, with Allardyce figuring out a system where his side can remain nice and compact out of possession but utilise the threat of Defoe going forward.
The former Portsmouth man scored five goals in the recent league victories over Aston Villa and Swansea City, taking his tally up to nine in only 14 league starts.
Sunderland’s recent defeat to Tottenham Hotspur leaves them in the bottom three and with lots of work to do, but in Defoe they know they have enough of a goal threat to pull themselves out.