Jan Kirchhoff is one of the most important ingredients in Sunderland’s attacking threat, believes Sam Allardyce.
As he was against Manchester City earlier in the month, Kirchhoff was Sunderland’s stand-out figure in Saturday’s defeat at West Ham, with the German thriving in a holding midfield role.
But Allardyce says Kirchhoff’s success has revolved around more than simply offering a 6ft 5in barrier in front of the Black Cats defence.
The accuracy of the ex-Bayern Munich man’s passing, plus ability to deliver the ball forwards at speed, has been hailed by Allardyce as a key factor for Sunderland on the attacking front.
“Jan’s our most productive player in possession,” said Allardyce.
“He delivered more balls than anybody else on Saturday, as he did against Manchester City.
“He gets the flow of our attacking forces going with the way he uses the ball and how good he is in terms of his vision of where to play the right ball forwards.
“Jan doesn’t keep possession for possession’s sake. He progresses us into more and more attacks by the way he uses the ball.
“He sees a pass probably better than anyone else at the club.
“It’s important for him to be a part of this team in terms of what he gives us with our creativity.”
Kirchhoff was struggling with cramp in the closing stages of the 1-0 loss at Upton Park, but is expected to keep his place for Sunderland’s crunch clash against Crystal Palace.
Allardyce has no fresh injury worries for the visit of Alan Pardew’s side, with winger Jeremain Lens still not ready to return after a hernia operation.