Ex-Sunderland man hails current star, insists club always have chance of victory with him in side

Former Black Cats winger Matt Piper believes the club hold a joker in the pack with in-form striker Jermain Defoe.

Former Sunderland winger Matt Piper has told the club's official website that the strugglers have an advantage over their rivals because they boast the goalscoring exploits of Jermain Defoe in their side.

The Black Cats are currently in 18th place in the Premier League table with just seven matches remaining, four points adrift of safety but with a game in hand over 17th-place Norwich City.

The Wearside club were held to a goalless draw in front of their own fans by West Bromwich Albion on Saturday as they missed the chance to stay within touching distance of escaping the relegation zone.

However, Sam Allardyce's side have now lost just one of their last seven league matches and in Defoe they have an experienced striker in a vein of fine form.

The 33-year-old has scored three goals in that seven-match run to take his tally for the season to 12 goals in 27 Premier League games, as well as a hat-trick in his only cup appearance back in August.

Piper, who played 24 league matches in four years at the Stadium of Light between 2002 and 2006, insists that being able to call on the services of Defoe means Sunderland have a chance of victory from any game.

He told the club's website: "He is the main man. He’s done it his entire career and you can guarantee him to score goals as he’s been doing again this season.

"If Sunderland are to get out of their current situation then he will need to be fit and 100% because he’s that crucial and that important to the team. If you have got Defoe in your team, even if he is having a quiet game, you know you have got a chance and that’s how I look at him.

"If he gets a chance in front of goal then nine times out of ten he’s going to take it, so hopefully he can stay fit and the team can produce some of those chances for him and he will be able to take a few of them."

Defoe has scored eight goals in 12 matches since the start of 2016, a streak which has not coincidentally also seen a general upturn in form for the club as a whole.

After winning just three league matches in the first five months of the season, the North East club have only lost the same number in 2016, and have given themselves a real fighting chance of escaping the drop zone.

Defoe and his teammates are likely to have to be at their best this weekend when they face a tricky home clash with league leaders Leicester City, who will be looking to take another big step towards the title by bringing three points back to the East Midlands.

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