Sunderland hero Jermain Defoe eager to face Stoke despite injury scare

Jermain Defoe beats Scott Dann to score for Sunderland
Jermain Defoe beats Scott Dann to score for Sunderland

Match-winner Jermain Defoe is hoping to lead the line for a revived Sunderland this weekend after limping off in the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

The 33-year-old’s persistence paid off when he scored an 80th minute winner for the Black Cats after a dogged defensive display.

All our work in the international break has paid off.

But he was forced off early, limping as he left the pitch after taking a knock to his ankle and he hopes it isn’t ligament damage.

Defoe, leading the line alongside Steven Fletcher in a 3-5-2 formation, described the win that took Sunderland to within a point of safety as “massive”.

It ended a two-game losing streak, as Allardyce picked up his first away win since taking charge.

Sunderland host Stoke City at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and Defoe is keen to play his part again.

A beaming Defoe said: “It is massive win for us and so important that we keep getting points.

“It was never going to be easy, the lads worked so hard though during the game.

“And all our work in the international break has paid off. Our fitness and energy levels were good towards the end of the game and we looked a lot fitter, that is something the manager has mentioned.”

When quizzed about his injury, Defoe said: “The only positive is that I can put weight on it.

“I just hope it’s not ligaments. I felt sharp and I’ve worked hard. I kept making runs in behind and I felt sharp throughout the game.

“People always say when you work hard, you get rewarded and I think that happened, that little bit of luck that you need, and I’m just delighted when I went through and put it away.”

Defoe took advantage of a mix up by Scott Dann and Wayne Hennessey at the back for Palace to ensure Sunderland took all three points back to the North East.

And Defoe has praised the team spirit shown by Allardyce’s men playing in the 3-5-2 formation.

He added: “The team spirit is always important.

“The lads worked hard, especially in the international break. We put the work in, to be honest, and it’s paid off.

“We knew it was going to be a difficult game.

“The first half was high tempo but we dug in, the lads battled fantastically and we’re delighted with the three points.

“It’s a great win and hopefully we can kick on now.

“It’s never easy when you’re scrapping for results but the manager has come in and done fantastic, he’s got the lads working hard.

“The first 20 minutes against Everton were good when we last played 3-5-2.

“We just had to make sure we weren’t going to make the same mistakes again.

“This was a totally different game, everyone worked hard from front to back.”