Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe said he wants the burden of scoring the goals his team needs to survive in the Premier League.
The 33-year-old scored a crucial double against fellow relegation battlers Aston Villa on Saturday but has struggled for starts under Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce.
Defoe hopes his two goals against Villa help his cause to start games, warning Allardyce that he needs goalscorers if he is going to keep Sunderland in the top-flight.
“If you want to win the league, finish in the top four or stay up, you have to score goals,” Defoe said.
“I am a goalscorer. I have to score the goals to help this team survive. I have always had that pressure on me. We are judged on scoring goals – we carry the main burden.
“But as a goalscorer that is fine by me. I’d love a run in the team. I feel fit and really sharp. I always say that if I get chances around the box I believe I will score a high percentage of them.
“You have got to be confident and I am. It is important to take those chances in such a difficult league. You have got to make those chances count and I think I can. If I do that, the manager will keep me in the team.”
Allardyce suggested Defoe can end the debate about whether or not he should start for Sunderland and play up front on his own by continuing to score goals.
“He can change everything by doing what he did more often,” Allardyce said.
“Why has everybody constantly said he can’t play up front on his own? I’ve listened to everybody else say that, but I’ve decided to go with it – and it’s paid off.
“Maybe everybody has to realise that he’s the end product, not there to be part of the build-up or to be a hold-up player like Steven Fletcher, but to put the ball in the back of the net.
“So we have to change our style, we have to play better and cleverer balls for Jermain to get in goalscoring positions. If we do that, he’ll score goal and win us games.”