KIERAN RICHARDSON believes Sunderland’s improved goal tally shows they have adequately replaced Darren Bent.
Goals from Stephane Sessegnon and Connor Wickham in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa took Sunderland’s haul to 14 from the opening 10 games – five more than they managed at the same stage of last season.
Left-back Richardson (pictured with Wickham) is encouraged there is no reliance on one player either, with six of Sunderland’s first nine goals last year coming from current Villa hitman Bent.
Richardson said: “Bent always played on the shoulder and tried to get in behind. (Nicklas) Bendtner and Connor have given us something different though.
“We have scored more this season at a similar stage and it shows we have replaced Bent.
“Last season it was more about Bent scoring all of the goals, this season everyone is chipping in.
“That’s great for the confidence of the whole team, not just one man.
“We want to get our strikers scoring more goals than the rest of the lads, but it’s good that they are shared out.”
Wickham grabbed his first Premier League goal to cancel out Stiliyan Petrov’s opener, in just his second start for the Black Cats. It was a quality left-footed finish from the 18-year-old and Richardson believes the England U21 international is evolving on a daily basis at the Academy of Light.
“Stepping up from the Championship is a bit different,” added Richardson.
“He has worked hard in training and got stronger by the day. I’m sure he will score many goals in the Premier League.
“He has everything. As long as he keeps his head down and listens to the manager, I’m sure he will progress.
“It showed out there that he already has people bouncing off him.
“It was a good comeback. The win at Bolton was massive and it would have been no good losing at home after that.”