Sunderland currently sit just one place above the relegation zone, ahead of Norwich City on goal difference.
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has praised centre-back Lamine Koné, labelling him a 'proper defender', as reported by the Belfast Telegraph.
Koné has made an immediate impact since joining the Black Cats in January on a four-year-deal, and Allardyce commented on how he is the very antipathy of what pundits nowadays describe as ball-playing defenders:
"He's a proper centre-half who knows how to defend. Whoever has brought him up and coached him has coached him how to defend.
"All that rubbish that pundits go on about, saying, 'he's a good centre-half because he comes out of the back with the ball and passes it' - he's there to defend. Defenders are there to defend, their first job is to defend and then play after, and if they can't defend, then they can't play at centre-half."
Since Allardyce's arrival at the Stadium of Light in October last year, he has lamented their defensive abilities, with the concession of late goals frequently costing his side valuable points.
There have been vast improvements of late, however, with the Black Cats managing to keep three clean sheets in their last four outings, and Koné has been a pivotal figure in that run.
The former Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United manager went on to praise the Ivorian's qualities:
"He's a really good defender, senses danger, enjoys defending as well, and plays a very simple, very effective basic game, and that looks extremely good and makes him look extremely talented both in and out of possession."
Sunderland head to Stoke City tomorrow, before back-to-back home games against Chelsea and Everton. They finish their season with a trip to Watford, and Allardyce believes his side must be wary of playing against teams who supposedly have nothing to play for:
"I think there's been a little bit too much emphasis on the switching-off scenario. For us, it's trying to achieve as many wins as we can as quickly as we can and not have to rely on the last game now, if we possibly can."