Dick Advocaat wants Jermain Defoe to remodel himself in Sunderland’s front three after the striker’s equaliser against Swansea.
Defoe’s second of the season got Sunderland off-the-mark for the campaign after the Black Cats put the dismal displays against Leicester and Norwich behind them to produce a much-improved performance.
The England international has made no secret of his desire to play in a central role this season, yet in Advocaat’s favoured 4-3-3 set-up, he doesn’t feel the 32-year-old has the physical attributes to play as the targetman.
However, neither does Advocaat want Defoe to be stuck out on the wing.
Both Defoe and summer signing Jeremain Lens are being given the licence to drift infield, while keeping an eye on their defensive responsibilities, with the duo combining for Sunderland’s second half leveller.
Advocaat said: “He (Defoe) has the freedom. Lens has the similar freedom.
“The three have to help defensively, but with the ball, the three have the freedom to go and a good example was the goal.
“It’s a little bit the same with Lens.
“I was happy with the last 20 minutes, because we could see him coming with a second wind with his pace.
“You see how dangerous that can be.”
There had been speculation last week that Defoe could leave the Stadium of Light before the end of the transfer window, while there were also false reports that the former Spurs man had asked to leave the club.
But Advocaat said: “He’s there to score goals.
“It was a good goal, good action and again, Jermain is a really positive guy - at training and that kind of thing.
“He never came to me to leave the club or whatever. He never mentioned that.
“The problem is some other people write all kind of things about that.
“That was not fair to him.”