Sunderland AFC news: Ex-Newcastle boss backs Black Cats to stay up, how Defoe turned his season around
Ex-Newcastle United boss Graeme Souness has backed Sunderland to stay up this season ahead of Norwich City and his former club.
Sunderland climbed out of the bottom three at the weekend on goal difference thanks to the point gained against Arsenal with Sam Allardyce's side in the driving seat in the race to stay in the Premier League.
Speaking on Monday Night Football, Souness said: "Newcastle are playing with a bit of confidence and belief after three good results back-to-back but they've still got it all to do for me.
"I think Sunderland look like the team that can stay up out of the three.
"Norwich are huffing and puffing a bit.
"That result Sunderland got down there really punched them on the nose. And although Newcastle have had a mini-revival, it might be too little too late.
"Sunderland are the team that have got the bit between their teeth."
And the former Newcastle boss says the number of clean sheets is helping Sunderland's cause.
Souness added: "When you are down there, you have to come up with a way to win games. You don't have to dominate the ball or you don't have to play the best football.
"Sam [Allardyce] has been around many times and when you are not conceding goals, the confidence is still there. I expected it to happen earlier and I think Sam expected it to happen earlier because he's had the chance to work with these players.
"To get a team playing where you are not conceding goals - and in Jermain Defoe, you've got someone who can nick games for you - it gives you half a chance.
"That defending is critical because when you concede daft goals, it really saps the confidence.
"That's the biggest reason why I think Sunderland will get out of it."
For the latest Sunderland AFC news like our Facebook page here or follow us on Twitter @sunechosafcMeanwhile, Jermain Defoe - who started the season on the wing under Dick Advocaat - was last night crowned Sunderland's Player of the Year.
The striker, who has scored 16 goals in all competitions this season, was presented with his trophy by Sunderland AFC Supporters Association chairman George Forster.
Duncan Watmore was also crowned the Young Player of the Year at the Stadium of Light event, attended by members of the club’s official supporters’ branches from Scotland to London, via Italy, Holland and the USA.
Meanwhile, Beth Mead, who was crowned the PFA Young Player of the Year on Sunday evening, made it a double after scooping the SAFC Ladies Player of the Year, while Abbey Joice was crowned Young Player of the Year.
Speaking about the award, Defoe said: "It’s an absolute honour to be chosen by the supporters to win an award like this.
"One of the big things I’ve noticed since I arrived here is how much the supporters care – the way the wait outside the stadium on a match day for hours just to meet you is something me and all the players notice and really appreciate.
"To get their backing like this means a lot to me and I’m very proud."