Sam Allardyce is confident Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe will be available for the visit of Stoke City on Saturday amid fears he had sustained ankle ligament damage at Crystal Palace this week.
The 33-year-old scored the only goal of the game at Selhurst Park on Monday but later limped down the tunnel after picking up a knock in the victory.
Defoe’s late winner ensured Sunderland a first away win of the season and Allardyce believes Defoe will be available for this weekend’s Premier League fixture at the Stadium of Light.
“[Jermain] is not as bad as first feared,” said Allardyce, who also offered an update on Fabio Borini’s progress from an ankle problem.
“We think [Defoe] has every chance of being available for Saturday’s game against Stoke.
“It looked like it was going to be strained ankle ligaments but to be fair I saw Jermain the day after and he was walking without any support, so we really hope he is going to be okay.
“Fabio was training before Monday’s game – he came on as a sub against Southampton but had a problem with the injury again. So, because of his lack of training with the squad, we felt it would be the right thing to leave him behind.
“[Then] he could get more and more training in before we consider bringing him back into the squad.”
Sunderland allowed midfielder Liam Bridcutt to leave on loan for Leeds United on Thursday, with Allardyce convinced by the strength within his squad despite sitting 18th in the Premier League.
“Defence is what kept Sunderland in the Premier League last season,” he added amid criticism of his defenders this term.
“The two leading goalscorers [in the league last season] were Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher with five each so you need to do your research better.
“When it finishes, you take a look at your overall season and if we keep 13 clean sheets we’ll stay up because we’ve got better goalscorers.
“Fletcher’s got four and Defoe’s already got four so we’ve got a goalscoring ability at the club with hopefully the emergence of Duncan Watmore, the return of Fabio Borini as well as chipping in from midfield and set-pieces.”