JERMAIN DEFOE says Sunderland’s frontmen should relish the chance to be a hero by grabbing the goals to keep the club in the Premier League.
Only Aston Villa have netted fewer times than Sunderland this season, with Tim Sherwood’s men now lying just one behind the Black Cats’ paltry tally of 25 goals in 32 top flight games.
It’s a problem looming large in the mind of Dick Advocaat, with the head coach admitting earlier this week that he was as worried by Sunderland’s lack of attacking threat as their defensive frailty, despite conceding four goals in 14 minutes against Crystal Palace last weekend.
Much rests on the shoulders of Defoe (right), with the 32-year-old netting three times since being brought to the club in January charged with firing the goals to secure Sunderland’s survival.
But rather than being overwhelmed by that responsibility, Defoe believes there is an opportunity over the final six games to make a mark by scoring the goals which could prove to be so meteoric.
Defoe said: “There’s pressure on everyone really.
“As forwards, you’ve got to score goals, but it’s never easy because in the back of your mind, you’re thinking we desperately need to win.
“But it’s good pressure because the rewards are so big and it means so much to everyone at the club.
“This is why you play football at the end of the day. If you love football, you enjoy these moments and try to enjoy the pressure.
“If you do well, then hopefully you make a lot of people happy.”
Defoe’s three goals have won Sunderland seven of their nine points earned during 2015.
While there remain question marks over the service to the England international, plus how well he has fitted into Sunderland’s system, Defoe has paid back some of the club’s hefty investment in his wages after arriving in a swap deal for flop striker Jozy Altidore.
However, ex-boss Gus Poyet - who persuaded Defoe to join Sunderland after working with him as both a player and coach at Tottenham - paid the price for his failure to improve results after the capture of the striker.
Defoe admits he feels sorry for Poyet after his dismissal last month, but he has become so attuned to the hirings and firings of management during his career, that he knows all that matters now is keeping Sunderland in the top flight.
“It’s happened so many times during my career,” he added.
“It’s not nice to see a manager get sacked.
“Gus is a cool guy and I played with him at Tottenham.
“But even if I didn’t know him, it’s not nice to see someone go. It’s quite sad.
“You’ve just to get on with it though and think about your club and winning games.”