NIALL Quinn believes Jermain Defoe can make a similar impact at Sunderland to his former Spurs strike partner Darren Bent.
Defoe is due to be unveiled today by Sunderland, with the England international expected to make his bow at White Hart Lane tomorrow, if he receives the necessary clearance.
Sunderland have struggled to find the net this season, with the Black Cats netting just 18 goals in 21 Premier League outings.
But their goal problems have stretched back far further, to when Bent left the Stadium of Light in January 2011 after the England international had netted 32 goals in 58 top-flight starts for the Black Cats.
Since then, Steven Fletcher’s tally of 11 goals in his maiden campaign at the club is the best tally any Sunderland player has produced in a solitary season.
And Quinn – who partnered fellow Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips in attack and brought Bent to the Stadium of Light as chairman – says that is something Defoe can address, with the 32-year-old 14th on the list of the Premier League’s record scorers.
“This signing has put Sunderland on the front foot again,” said Quinn.
“Whenever the club has been successful, it’s because they’ve had someone up front banging in the goals on a regular basis.
“Kevin did it when I was there and then Darren hit the ground running when he arrived from Tottenham.
“I see particular comparisons between the Bent deal and this one.
“Darren arrived feeling he had something to prove because he didn’t get the rub of the green at Tottenham.
“Jermain will have heard all the whispers about his age and that after a year in Toronto, he may have lost his edge but he’ll love that and see it as a challenge.”
Defoe netted 11 goals in 19 games during an injury-hit year campaign with MLS outfit Toronto FC.
But with Toronto prepared to swap Defoe for Sunderland flop Jozy Altidore, the Black Cats moved to boost their attacking ranks.
“He’ll ignite the place. It’s a great deal,” added Quinn.
“I watched Sunderland’s defeat against Liverpool last week and they looked really flat.
“Under Gus, they’re hard to beat but it had become obvious, they needed a bit more in attack.
“Defoe can provide that. He’s a natural goalscorer, one of the best around and crucially, he’s still hungry.”
“Defoe can’t do it all on his own and I’d like to see either Steven Fletcher or Connor Wickham alongside.
“Fletcher had a great start but due to injuries and one thing or another, it’s been a bit of a struggle recently but this could be just what the club’s current forwards need to get going again.
“But I honestly believe his arrival will give Sunderland the spark they need right now and hats off to everyone at the club who made it happen.”