THE IMPACT of Jermain Defoe’s signing has rubbed off on his Sunderland team-mates, believes strike partner Danny Graham.
Defoe will look to find the net for the third successive Premier League game tonight, as the Black Cats bid to continue QPR’s 100 per cent record of away defeats this season.
The England international helped Sunderland to their first top flight victory of 2015 in their last home outing against Burnley, while his superb individual effort secured a point at Swansea on Saturday.
But Graham, expected to continue alongside Defoe at the Stadium of Light tonight, says the 32-year-old has brought more than goals since returning to the Premier League from MLS outfit Toronto FC.
There is a renewed confidence among Sunderland’s ranks that they now have the sufficient attacking threat to move up the table, with Gus Poyet’s men looking to extend the four-point buffer with the bottom three tonight.
Graham told the Echo: “As soon as he hit the ball at Swansea, you know it’s on target or going in, it’s normally the latter.
“To have someone like that at the football club has given everyone a massive boost.
“It’s upped everyone’s game and I think you can see that from the last few weeks.
“He’s done it all his career.
“He’s keeping everyone on their toes and everyone wants to be playing up front with him.
“It’s good to have that competition.”
Managerless QPR have lost all 11 games on the road this season, and will be without injured top scorer Charlie Austin tonight.
Graham insists there can be no complacency at QPR’s travel sickness, despite confidence in the visitors’ camp being further eroded by a last-gasp defeat to Southampton on Saturday.
But the 29-year-old believes Sunderland are in a positive frame of mind after four points from the last two league games, plus progress in the FA Cup.
“QPR’s away form has been highlighted, but we have to be professional and just worry about ourselves,” added Graham.
“We have to prepare right, be focused and make sure we do the job tonight. Wins help everyone and the Burnley game was massive.
“We got three points then and we’ve carried it on.
“In hindsight, it’s a good point at Swansea, even though we were a bit disappointed.
“The games are coming thick and fast, but everyone is on a bit of a high compared to a few weeks ago.
“That’s great for everyone.”