Jermain Defoe has played down fears over a hamstring injury after sparking concern within moments of his last-gasp equaliser at Liverpool.
Defoe’s 10th Premier League goal of the campaign rescued a point for Sunderland at Anfield on Saturday after the Black Cats recovered from 2-0 down with a dramatic late comeback.
However, moments after Defoe’s 89th minute leveller, he pulled up clutching his hamstring as he raced onto a long ball over the top of Liverpool’s defence.
Defoe - who suffered a hamstring problem in November - was walking without any difficulties after the game though and insists the injury is not serious.
The 33-year-old said: “It’s alright. I just felt it a little bit with that last sprint.”
Defoe is not the only injury worry facing Sam Allardyce ahead of next Saturday’s visit of Manchester United, with Duncan Watmore limping off at Liverpool after rolling his ankle.
Watmore is unlikely to be available against United, while Younes Kaboul and Jeremain Lens (both groin) are also doubts after missing the Liverpool game.
Fabio Borini should be back though after he was a late withdrawal on Merseyside due to illness.
However, Sunderland at least head into the United game in buoyant spirits after their Liverpool comeback, even though Defoe is well aware that the Black Cats’ position remains so perilous.
Defoe said: “Obviously the games are running out, and we know we need the results. There’s a lot of pressure.
“But you’ve got to stay relaxed and always look forwards to the games.
“The character at Liverpool was brilliant, as it was against Man City.
“If we can continue to do that, then I’m sure we’ll be fine.
“At 2-0 down with time running out, we looked unlikely to even get a point.
“But then Jonno (Adam Johnson) comes on and does unbelievable with the free-kick.
“And after that, you think, maybe we can get another goal and get a point.
“Even when we scored the second, I looked up at the clock and thought if we had five or 10 minutes more, we might be able to win the game.
“That’s a good thing because the boys showed some great character.”