Jermain Defoe says Sunderland players do not want to use the crippling injury list as an excuse for their poor start to the season.
But the star striker says it has to be taken into account.
You look as well at the players who have gone as well so it was always going to be difficult.
Statistically, Sunderland have been the club most badly hit by injuries this season.
For last Saturday’s trip to Stoke, the Black Cats had eight players – Fabio Borini, Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff, Lamine Kone, Adnan Januzaj, Seb Larsson, Jason Denayer, and Vito Mannone – unavailable, and then lost Patrick van Aanholt to injury in the first half.
Sunderland’s leading scorer says the squad don’t want to make excuses but admits injuries have been an issue.
“It’s a massive factor if you lose your key players,” said Defoe, speaking in an interview on safc.com.
“It’s going to change your team, Catts and Jan are injured, Pat came off the other day, there are others too.
“You look as well at the players who have gone as well so it was always going to be difficult.
“New players have come in and it’s always going to take time for them to settle in with the language etc.
“A new manager has come in and it’s going to take time for him to find his best team and so on.”
But, while those factors have been a reason, Defoe was also honest enough to say that the side have not always helped themselves on the field.
“It does take time but there are games we should have won, like Palace, and others where we could have got a result,” he said.
“If you can’t win don’t lose, that was the sort of mentality we had last year.”
Meanwhile, Defoe says that although the team is struggling the fans aren’t – and are the best in the Premier League.
A near-3,000 red and white army is preparing for tomorrow’s trip to West Ham, and Defoe says he has been overwhelmed by the passion of the support.
“Since I’ve been at the club the fans have been brilliant,” said the 34-year-old.
“As players, we are lucky to have supporters like that, there aren’t many clubs who have fans like ours, it’s special.
“We’re the only team in the Premier League without a win but we still have the best support.”
Defoe said the way the fans are getting behind the side should be “motivation” in itself to the players.
Last Saturday at the bet365 Stadium, the packed away end sung repeatedly throughout the second half, even though the Black Cats were slipping to their sixth league defeat of the season.
“If we can start winning games, imagine what the support will be like,” he added.