Sunderland are just getting started, insists Defoe as he backs ‘brilliant’ Pickford to bounce back

Jermain Defoe enjoys his penalty opener at Southampton in Sunderland's 1-1 draw. Picture by Frank Reid
Jermain Defoe enjoys his penalty opener at Southampton in Sunderland's 1-1 draw. Picture by Frank Reid
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In-form Jermain Defoe insists injury-hit Sunderland are just getting started after picking up their first point of the Premier League campaign.

Sunderland came within five minutes of their first win, Defoe’s penalty cancelled out by Jay Rodriguez’s late equaliser for Southampton.

But Defoe, who scored his second goal in three league games, believes Sunderland will be “fine” this season – if they maintain the same level of performance.

“It is always nice to get the first point,” said Defoe, who was disappointed last night to miss out on a place in Sam Allardyce’s first England squad.

“It would have been nice to get all three but there were so many positives – just like the Manchester City game.

“If we keep playing like that, then we will be fine.

“Every game is difficult in the Premier League, especially away from home.

“The manager had said before the game that if we get a point it is not a bad result.

“We have a few injuries that need to come back, a few additions would be nice, obviously.

“The same goes for every club, even if you have won the league you still try and improve and get new players in to get to the next level – it is no different to us.

“It is good that the young lads have an opportunity, though, even those that didn’t get on, just to be involved with the first team is special.

“We look forward to the next games after the international break.

“It is a long season and we are just getting started.”

Manager David Moyes had warned fans to brace themselves for another difficult season in the wake of the defeat to Middlesbrough.

When asked about the manager’s comments, Defoe said: “I don’t know, maybe he [Moyes] was joking!

“As a player, I never really think like that, I just take each game as it comes.

“It is such a long season, I can’t turn round and say yeah it is a relegation fight.

“It is never easy but it is not easy for any team.”

Defoe reserved special praise for Jordan Pickford – whose error for Rodriguez’s 85th minute equaliser overshadowed an otherwise excellent display.

Captain for the day Defoe said: “I thought Pickford was brilliant, he kept us in the game, his decision making when to catch, when to punch, was good.

“He produced some good saves, pushing the shots away from danger.

“He was fine [after the game], he is a confident lad and his kicking is unbelievable. He is a top goalkeeper and was our best player.

“He has great potential, he was just unfortunate with the goal.

“It won’t affect him though, he is so confident.

“It was good to have some of the injured players back and there are more to come back in.

“Fabio [Borini] got a little twinge in his groin but Fab was fantastic, he hasn’t trained that much; to come into the team with those energy levels was good.

“Kone was back and we need his presence at the back.

“The new lads that came in all did well too.

“It is always important when it is an international break, when everyone splits off or goes away, that we haven’t lost the game.

“Everyone seems to be confident.”