Sam Allardyce says Sunderland would be safe already if their defence had done its job properly

Allardyce deflated

However, the Black Cats boss has acknowledged the contribution of Jermain Defoe.

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce believes the goals of Jermain Defoe would have secured the club's safety by now, were it not for his defenders failing to do their jobs properly.

Defoe has scored 11 goals in 25 Premier League appearances this season, but those behind him have mustered the fewest clean sheets of any club in the division (three).

  Clean SheetAppearances
Swansea 7 30
Aston Villa 5 30
Newcastle 5 29
Norwich 4 30
Sunderland 3 29

Sunderland added defenders Jan Kirchhoff and Lamine Kone to their ranks in January - with Emmanuel Eboue joining them last week - though it's coming up to five months since the Black Cats' last league shut-out.

And, speaking to talkSPORT's Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show on Friday, Allardyce cited this month's draw at Southampton as an example of his back line letting Defoe down.

"He should have been the matchwinner at Southampton a couple of weeks ago after coming off the bench," the 61-year-old said.

"He'd scored only one in about seven games and, typical Jermain, he puts himself right back in the frame - pops on, scores a goal and says: why did you put me on the bench in the first place?

"It’s great to have someone with his gift, and like I’ve said to the players, had we kept a few more clean sheets we’d already be safe because we’ve had enough goals.

"Jermain, I think, has got 14 league goals this year (he actually has 14 in all competitions). Being in the bottom three it should be enough goals for you not to really be there if the defence had done their jobs properly."

Allardyce's theory certainly checks out, with Sunderland the bottom seven's leading scorers this season (35), while only Aston Villa have conceded more than theirs, Norwich's and Newcastle's tallies of 54 (57).

Sunderland and Newcastle, who meet at St. James' Park on Sunday, have nine games in which to avoid the drop - one more than Norwich, who sit between the two in 18th place.

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