Saturday 21 April 2018

Case for defence concerns Sam Allardyce

Sam Allardyce will be on the defensive as he launches his Sunderland rescue mission
Sam Allardyce will be on the defensive as he launches his Sunderland rescue mission

Sam Allardyce will found his Sunderland rescue mission on trying to repair the holes in a porous defence.

The 60-year-old will get to work with his players in earnest later this week when the club's remaining internationals return from duty with their respective countries ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to West Brom.

Eight league games to date have brought just three points, but more worryingly for Allardyce, 18 goals against, and that is a failing he will seek to address immediately.

Asked how tough the challenge ahead of him is likely to be, he said: "Well, I don't really know that until I've actually got amongst all the players and find out their various strengths and weaknesses as individuals and as a team.

"There's obviously one thing that I need to put right as quickly as possible, and that's not concede 18 goals in the next eight games.

"It's obviously something that we have to address immediately and make sure that as a team we become more resilient."

The Black Cats' last game was a case in point as they allowed a 2-0 lead over West Ham at the Stadium of Light to slip and drew 2-2.

That at least showed Allardyce that the squad he inherited from Dick Advocaat - who later voiced the opinion that it simply was not good enough - has goals in it.

Asked what scope he might have to add to his resources - Sunderland have been linked with out-of-contract trio Kevin Nolan, Carlton Cole and Ron Vlaar in recent days - Allardyce admitted the process of identifying what is required and what might be available will start almost immediately.

He said: "We seem to have some goals in the camp. Steven Fletcher seems to be scoring quite regularly, we all know Jermain Defoe can score and we have got Fabio Borini, so we can score hopefully a few goals from set plays, so if we can keep that going, then sort the defensive side out, then we should be okay.

"Then January brings another challenge. What player can we get, were can we get him from and more importantly, is he good enough? That's going to be a task that we need to start planning for now, we need to start finding out about now.

"But in the meantime, that wouldn't be my first priority, my first priority is to try to get this time winning."

Press Association

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