BOLO Zenden today insisted Kieran Richardson’s Blackpool heroics proves Sunderland are not just reliant on sole striker Asamoah Gyan for goals.
Richardson grabbed a brace at Bloomfield Road on Saturday to break his duck for the season and seal a third win out of four for Steve Bruce’s side.
The 26-year-old was used as the most advanced member of a midfield five who had managed just a solitary goal before the weekend’s 2-1 victory.
But the system suited the Black Cats who made light of their threadbare attacking options following the departure of Darren Bent and injuries to Fraizer Campbell and Danny Welbeck.
Club captain Zenden hopes Sunderland can boost their ranks in the remaining eight days of the transfer window although he believes Richardson’s display shows the loss of last season’s top scorer Bent will not prove fatal.
Zenden told the Echo: “It’s a different position for Kieran behind the striker and he’s got the energy to play there.
“We put him in the right areas and he had two good finishes. That shows a bit of strength in the squad that we’re not reliant on just one player to score the goals.
“That’s obviously what we were afraid of when Darren went.
“The manager and chairman are still trying to fill the gap which is normal, whether it’s going to be a permanent or loan deal. But we haven’t got too many strikers because there’s two that are injured.
“When they are back, they can fill in the gap but that may take a while.”
Sunderland shrugged off the loss of Bent and last weekend’s disappointing derby display to take an early lead against the Tangerines as Richardson slid Gyan’s inch-perfect pass beyond Richard Kingson.
Craig Gordon was forced to make two superb saves before Richardson doubled his tally in the 36th minute when he turned Steed Malbranque’s pull-back inside the near post.
Sunderland were comfortable after the break until five minutes from time when Blackpool were gifted a dubious penalty which Charlie Adam converted.
But Sunderland survived six minutes of stoppage time to move within a point of the Champions League places.
“Obviously everyone has been talking about Darren leaving,” said Zenden. “But the only thing for us to do was to get our heads focused on the weekend and there hasn’t been too much talk about it.
“Blackpool got the lucky break on the penalty which was nowhere near one. Then you know you’re going to be in for a difficult last few minutes because they’re going to push you.
“But we stuck together, kept it tight and we worked hard to get the result.”