Time for heroes as Norwich, Sunderland and Newcastle eye survival
Published 21/04/2016 | 12:26
Norwich, Sunderland and Newcastle are engaged in a desperate fight for Barclays Premier League survival as the season approaches its climax, with two of the trio looking destined for the drop.
All three need heroes to emerge. Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the men who could get their respective clubs out of trouble.
Republic of Ireland international Hoolahan has been used as an impact substitute by Alex Neil in recent weeks, but the 33-year-old has the priceless ability to unlock tightly-packed defences. His invention could prove crucial as the Canaries attempt to secure the points they need to stay up.
Another who has had to be patient, winger Redmond's pace and direct approach immediately gave Norwich impetus following his introduction at half-time in last weekend's costly 3-0 home defeat by the Black Cats. The 22-year-old has five goals to his name this season, although only one in his last 24 appearances.
Former England striker Defoe's goal at Carrow Road was his 16th of the season, a statistic which underlines both his enduring potency and his importance to Sam Allardyce's team. At 33, he still knows where the goal is and while chances have gone begging in recent weeks, he remains the man most likely to find the back of the net.
Dubbed "the Roadrunner" by manager Allardyce, Watmore's pace and willingness to take on defenders in possession and harry them out of it could prove invaluable. The England Under-21 international returned from a two-month injury lay-off at Norwich to score, and his presence in the squad gives Sunderland something different.
Central defender Lascelles has established himself as something of a folk hero in the last fortnight, emerging from the shadows as a result of injury to do his talking on and off the pitch. It was he, despite his relative youth at 22, who delivered a withering assessment of what was missing after a 3-1 defeat at Southampton, and he who led by example with the opening goal in the 3-0 win over Swansea and a solid display in the 1-1 draw with Manchester City.
Until recently the flag-bearer for Newcastle's under-performing big-name players, Sissoko has been transformed by the responsibility of captaining the team in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini and Jonjo Shelvey. At his rampant best, the 26-year-old France midfielder is a real handful, and manager Rafael Benitez will hope Sissoko's first goal of the season against Swansea is not his last.