Jermain Defoe is eager to hit the ground running at the start of the season by adding to his pre-season goals tally in Sunderland’s final two friendlies.
Defoe and his Sunderland team-mates reassembled at the Academy of Light this morning after Dick Advocaat gave them a breather over the weekend, following the squad’s return from a two-week long tour of North America.
I want to make sure I’m ready for those first few games and make sure I’m sharp.
Sunderland played three friendlies during their time on the other side of the Atlantic, and now face just two warm-up games before the Premier League gets underway in less than a fortnight.
Advocaat’s men head to League One Doncaster on Wednesday night, before travelling to Germany to face Hannover 96 next weekend.
But while nothing is riding on the two encounters, striker Defoe - who scored twice against former club Toronto last week - wants to keep finding the net so he can make his mark in the early stages of the new season.
Defoe told the Echo: “I always try to get off to a good start really.
“I want to make sure I’m ready for those first few games and make sure I’m sharp.
“Sometimes it helps when you manage to get a few goals in pre-season, just in terms of confidence.
“But we want to get off to a good start to the season as a team too.
“Obviously if I can contribute and nick a few goals early on, then that obviously helps.”
Defoe looked sharper against Toronto after being used in an orthodox two man attack, in a 4-3-1-2 set-up.
The England striker had made his feelings clear about being used on the left flank in a 4-3-3 during the two friendlies in California, when Sunderland had struggled to muster a goal threat.
“The shape seemed to be better in the last match, because it’s something the players are obviously used to,” he added.
“It was a bit laboured at times, but we managed to create a few chances.”
Meanwhile, Sunderland Under-21s will travel to non-league Boston tomorrow night for their penultimate pre-season friendly after a 3-1 win over Scottish side Hamilton on Saturday.
Charis Mavrias, who featured along with fellow first-team exile Valentin Roberge, netted a brace for Robbie Stockdale’s side, with striker Mikael Mandron also on the scoresheet.