The Black Cats are currently 17th in the table but relegation is still a possibility.
Sam Allardyce’s side are currently 17th in the table having managed to escape from the bottom three last weekend.
They are far from safe though; sitting level on points with Norwich City in 18th behind them and just a point ahead of rivals Newcastle United in 19th.
Smith though, has backed his former side to avoid the drop adding that Allardyce will break that cycle of struggling in future.
“I really do think Sunderland are the ones most likely to survive down there because they are playing well,” he told the Sunderland Echo.
“Sam Allardyce has got them organised and solid, so they’re difficult to break down, but they also have pace going forward and in Jermain Defoe they’ve always got a goal threat.”
“[With] Sam as manager they can break the cycle of struggling every season if they do stay up. He understands the league and the kind of players you need to survive.”
If Sunderland are to avoid the drop this season, then there is no denying that striker Defoe will be key their hopes of doing so.
The striker has been in fine form them this season, despite his side’s struggles, with 16 goals in all competitions, 13 in the Premier League.
It is those goals that ensure they have not already been relegated this season, with Allardyce admitting they have relied on him to keep them up, and they will need him in fine form for the last four games to ensure they avoid relegation.