Defoe’s goals kept Sunderland up last season, and it looks as if David Moyes’ side will be relying on the veteran forward again this time around.
Pickford, meanwhile, has become Sunderland’s number one this term, but he has been handed a baptism of fire.
The Black Cats’ defence have offered Pickford very little protection throughout the season so far.
And Gray said: “I don’t think the quality is there. I feel for Jermain, and the young goalkeeper coming through in Jordan Pickford. There’s also some half decent players there, but you can’t keep fighting relegation.”
Sunderland only narrowly avoided the drop last term, with Sam Allardyce doing brilliantly to keep the Wearsiders in the top flight.
The Black Cats look set to be in a battle against the drop again this term, though, after a seriously worrying start to the season.
Sunderland are yet to win in the league this term, and they are now in danger of being cut adrift.
Moyes’ side are four points away from safety already, with their next match coming against West Ham United at the London Stadium.