MATT KILGALLON is confident Sunderland can defy their pre-season goal drought and muster sufficient firepower at Arsenal this weekend.
The Black Cats found the net just four times in six pre-season outings – three of which came in one game, the Peace Cup victory over Dutch side Groningen.
But Sunderland’s attacking options are likely to be boosted by the return of last year’s Player of the Season Stephane Sessegnon for Saturday’s trip to the Emirates, despite the Benin forward only resuming training on Tuesday after missing the pre-season programme with an ankle injury.
And with Martin O’Neill holding talks with free agent Louis Saha yesterday, centre-half Kilgallon is not too concerned by Sunderland’s problems in front of goal.
Kilgallon told the Echo: “Sess hasn’t played any of the pre-season games and he’s massive for us.
“He can make the ball do things you’ve never seen before, so it’ll be good to get him back.
“Fraizer’s (Campbell) looked really fit, too, and has been a massive handful in training.
“Connor’s (Wickham) also coming back from his injury and we’ve got Ji (Dong-won) to come back as well, so hopefully they’ll be ready to go soon.”
The 28-year-old added: “I don’t really know about what’s happening with transfers, but I’m sure the gaffer’s talking to people.
“It’s our first full season with him and he can put a bit more of what he thinks into the start of the season.
“I’m sure we’ll bring a few more players in, as well as some new ideas on how to play.”
O’Neill has made striking reinforcements a priority this summer after Sunderland found the net just four times in the final seven games last season.
While Kilgallon acknowledges that Sunderland need to all share the burden in front of goal, he is eager for the Premier League campaign to get under way against last season’s third-placed Gunners.
“Ever since the manager came in, we’ve looked solid at the back and we’ve kept some clean sheets in pre-season,” said the former Sheffield United defender.
“It’s not just up to the strikers to score goals, everyone has to create chances for them.
“Hopefully we can do that and get some balls into the box for them to finish.
“The first game is what we’ve all been waiting for.
“Pre-season has whizzed by and I can’t believe it’s here already.
“It’ll be a hard game at Arsenal, but we’re ready for it.”