JERMAIN DEFOE insists his goalscoring belief has not dipped, despite a six-game barren streak.
England international Defoe was brought to the Stadium of Light in January charged with firing the goals that would secure Sunderland’s Premier League survival, with only Aston Villa finding the net on fewer occasions than the Black Cats this season.
I was disappointed at West Ham. They’re the opportunities you work on every day in training, those sort of finishes.Jermain Defoe
But since netting his second goal in his first three top-flight outings for Sunderland back in February at Swansea, Defoe has failed to find the net.
In part, that has been down to a dreadful lack of service, with Defoe forced to feed on scraps and too often operating on his own up front.
Yet the 32-year-old spurned a golden opportunity to fire Sunderland ahead in Dick Advocaat’s opening game in charge at West Ham a fortnight ago – a chance the ex-Hammers frontman admits he was left ruing.
As one of only 24 players who have scored more than 100 Premier League goals though, Defoe is well aware of the fluctuating fortunes which can plague strikers and is confident of getting back on the scoresheet in his derby debut this weekend.
“Obviously, it’s not been easy, but you just have to get on with it at the end of the day,” said Defoe.
“You’ve got to stay positive.
“I’ve always believed that one game changes everything.
“You can not score for six or seven games, but then you might score two goals in one and you’re confident again and go on a good run.
“I was disappointed at West Ham.
“They’re the opportunities you work on every day in training, those sort of finishes.
“When the chance came, I changed my mind from what I wanted to do and ended up missing.
“After the game, it was difficult because I get frustrated.
“I came into the changing room and watched it on the laptop, and I knew I should have scored.
“The manager said to me ‘you are quality, you usually score’.
“(At) the next training session, I was fine though. I expect myself to score and look forward to the next game to put it right.
“As a forward, it’s always important to stay confident, keep believing in yourself, especially if you’ve done it before.
“I’ve done it so many times.”
Defoe is not alone among Sunderland’s strikers in struggling this season.
Winger Adam Johnson remains Sunderland’s top scorer with a modest five in all competitions, with Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham netting just one between them in 2015.
Fletcher has not found the net in a red and white shirt since November, yet the striker’s hat-trick in last weekend’s Euro 2016 qualifying rout over Gibraltar at least provided the 28-year-old with a boost.
As a statistical quirk, Defoe and Fletcher are now the last players to score a treble for England and Scotland respectively.
“It’s special, it doesn’t matter who the opposition is, to score a hat-trick in a game,” added Defoe. “I was watching the game and when he scored the first, I thought he might have a chance.
“I thought it would be good for him to get that hat-trick and even yesterday in training, you could see that once you’ve nicked a few goals in a game, your confidence naturally comes back.
“It was important for the team.
“Everyone is buzzing for Fletch.
“At the end of the day, you get judged on scoring goals as a forward.
“That’s what we’re paid to do.”