Jermain Defoe is expected to earn an instant recall to the starting XI for the Tyne-Wear derby after a decisive contribution from the bench at Southampton.
Sunderland top scorer Defoe was left out in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at St Mary’s after Sam Allardyce brought Fabio Borini back into the fold and moved Dame N’Doye into a more familiar central role.
But with N’Doye – who had opened his Sunderland account in last midweek’s 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace – failing to make an impression in the first hour, Defoe replaced the on-loan Trabzonspor man and promptly netted his 11th of the season.
Sam Allardyce has explained his thinking behind leaving Defoe out of the side, but has hinted that the 33-year-old will be back in the side at St James’s Park in a fortnight.
“Fabio scored against Crystal Palace, Wahbi (Khazri) scored against Man United and Dame scored against Palace,” said Allardyce. “Jermain hadn’t scored since Liverpool, so we put Dame up the top and he did a good job in creating chances.
“He went off and Jermain came on and got the goal we were looking for, so it’s a nice rotation thing between them.
“Jermain was disappointed he wasn’t selected, but he went on and scored. He says ‘there you go, are you going to leave me out next time?’”
N’Doye has been the most subdued of Sunderland’s four front-line January signings, who have unquestionably improved the Black Cats’ performance levels and survival prospects significantly over recent weeks.
But there were again signs of fatigue from both Khazri and Jan Kirchhoff in the second half and Allardyce admits that the pair are quickly discovering the physical demands of Premier League football.
“I think some of the new players are starting to feel the pace of the Premier League a little bit,” added Allardyce.
“As well as they’ve done, they don’t realise how ferocious this league is. They’re having to find their maximum every single game they play.
“In fact, they’re going beyond the maximum that they’ve ever gone before.
“They’ve never had to run as far, as often or as quick – believe you me. They’re finding that quite difficult, but what we have got is better ability as a team because of them.
“As time goes on, they’ll catch up and get even better because there’ll be able to handle that physical side.”