BBC pundit names the teammate of Jermain Defoe he thinks can be vital for Sunderland in the run-in

Jermaine Jenas

Jermaine Jenas says Wahbi Khazri's attitude and quality could be a cornerstone of the Black Cats' survival.

Former Newcastle United midfielder and current BBC Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas suggested on Match of the Day 2 on Sunday night that Wahbi Khazri can prove the difference between relegation and survival for Sunderland, as quoted by the Chronicle.

Sunderland held Arsenal to a 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light on Sunday to move above Norwich City and out of the relegation zone on goal difference with just four matches of the season remaining.

After the match, Jenas singled out January signing Khazri, who played the full 90 minutes, as the Black Cats' best player on the pitch.

The former England midfielder highlighted the Tunisian international attacker's work rate and attitude as a huge positive for Sam Allardyce's side, and suggested that the 25-year-old could yet prove to be the difference between the Wearsiders and their relegation rivals.

Jenas told Match of the Day 2, as quoted by the Chronicle: "Wahbi Khazri was terrific today. He’s the type of player that likes to get on the ball and he likes to try and make things happen. But not only does he do that, against Arsenal he showed a different side to his game - more powerful and mentally strong. He was physical and had a big impact on this game today. He was very impressive.

"At one point here he’s unfortunate not to pick Defoe out but look at that reaction [as he chased and won back the ball]. You can’t imagine what that does to the Stadium of Light. They erupted when they saw that tackle. He was working back for his team which was fantastic. And when his defence was under pressure he would try and carry the ball and try to mount attacks for Sunderland.

"Today he was the best player by a mile for me and if he can stay in that type of form, along with Sunderland keeping the clean sheets, it’s pretty much nailed on that they’ll stay up."

Sunderland are now just about in pole position to retain their Premier League status, with a significantly better goal difference than Norwich and sitting one point clear of rivals Newcastle with a game in hand.

They take on Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium next weekend looking to secure another positive result to take themselves another step close to survival.

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