Sunderland urged to make up for Sessegnon absence

Danny Graham must do without Stephane Sessegnon (right) against Stoke on Monday

Danny Graham must do without Stephane Sessegnon (right) against Stoke on Monday

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SUNDERLAND’S remaining players have to take extra goalscoring responsibility now Stephane Sessegnon has been ruled out for the rest of the season, says Paolo Di Canio.

The Benin international received a red card in the 6-1 defeat at Villa Park on Monday which landed him a suspension for the Black Cats’ last three games of the campaign.

And the seven-goal striker now joins leading goalscorer, injured Scotland cap Steven Fletcher, on the sidelines for the run-in.

Between them, Fletcher and Sessegnon have scored almost half of Sunderland’s goals this season.

But Di Canio says others now have to step up to the plate.

And with England Under-21 international striker Connor Wickham not expected to have any chance of recovering from injury in time to face Stoke City on Monday night, a heavier responsibility than normal will lie on the shoulders of Danny Graham, yet to get off the mark since joining Sunderland for £5million in January.

“I look at Danny Graham and I know he is ready to score a goal,” said Di Canio.

“There will be a moment where he scores and I feel that he will score important goals in the next three games.

“We have other players who can score goals as well, especially when we will be pushing players further forward because we are home in our next couple of games.

“Adam Johnson can score goals, Seb Larsson, Craig Gardner, even Alfred N’Diaye has gone close a couple of times and I feel goals can come from him.

“Obviously, we are not Manchester United in terms of scoring goals, but it was no accident that we scored three goals at Newcastle or that we scored one, almost two or three goals, against Everton.

“We will create enough chances to score goals, even if we don’t score many.

“We just have to make sure that we are also strong at the back from now on and don’t give our opponents too many chances.”

As for Sessegnon, who starts a three-game ban against the Potters following his dismissal for a challenge on Yacouba Sylla at Villa Park, Di Canio has already moved on.

“Stephane Sessegnon is an important player, but we don’t have him available to us any more, so I don’t want to talk about him,” he said.

“It does no good.

“He is a very good player, a very important player, but we have to focus on the games coming up and therefore I only want to talk about the players who can get us the points we need in the next few games.”

Twitter @sunechograeme