Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has urged manager Sam Allardyce to stop putting him on the substitutes’ bench ahead of Sunday’s huge derby against Newcastle United.
The 33-year-old has been named as a substitute for the club’s last four matches, including the new boss’ first game in charge – a 1-0 defeat at West Brom on Saturday.
Defoe is desperate for that to change, revealing his frustration at sitting on the sidelines and warning that was not why he joined the strugglers last season.
Sunderland are yet to win in nine Premier League matches and go into the game against Newcastle – who they have beaten in each of the last five derbies – sitting bottom of the table.
“The manager knows,” Defoe told The Journal. “I am 33, I want to play games. If you speak to any of the boys, everyone wants to play.
“At the age of 33, you want to play football. I didn’t come here to sit on the bench. You want to play football and score goals. I said that from day one
“Yeah, the manager picks the team – you have got to respect that – but at the same time, it doesn’t mean you have to be happy about it.”
The former England international insisted he was not looking for a January exit from Sunderland despite his lack of regular action from the start.
“I don’t think like that,” said Defoe. “I don’t sit there and think, ‘Well, come January I am going to go’.
“I have just got to focus on the games, stay positive and, if I play then, I have got to do my best, work hard and hopefully score.
“I can understand the manager coming in and saying he is not too sure if he wants to play 4-4-2 – he might want to be more solid so you don’t concede goals. We will just see what happens.”
Allardyce warned Defoe after his appointment as manager that he would have to show he was more than a just a goalscorer if he wants to secure a starting berth.