Sam Allardyce has reminded Jermain Defoe that he is not the only Sunderland player hoping for a chance ahead of Sunday’s derby against Newcastle.
Defoe said earlier this week that he is not happy sitting on the bench for the club he joined from Toronto in January after being named only among the substitutes for Allardyce’s first game in charge, last Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League defeat at West Brom.
Defoe blasted himself into the affections of the Black Cats faithful in April when his stunning volley handed the club a 1-0 derby victory over Newcastle, but while he may find himself outside the starting XI once again as the Magpies return to Wearside on Sunday, Allardyce has told the 33-year-old he could still have a major role to play.
Allardyce said: “Every player at the football club who is not playing on a regular basis wants to play. Like Jermain said, he didn’t come here to sit on the bench. All the players who are here haven’t come here to sit on the bench.
“But when you talk about 22 outfield players in the squad these days, some of them unfortunately don’t play as regularly as others, so what I would say is those who get the chance make sure you grasp it when you get it.
“If you grab that chance then and you impress me, it’s going to give you the opportunity to be selected for the first team in the next game.”
Sunday’s game sees Allardyce go head to head with Newcastle boss Steve McClaren, the man who denied him Carling Cup glory in 2004 when the pair were in charge at Bolton and Middlesbrough respectively, and then got the England job he coveted a little more than two years later.
However, he insists that the derby is not about he and McClaren, nor his brief spell in charge at St James’ Park, although he admits victory this weekend would be sweet as the Black Cats attempt to secure a sixth successive win over Newcastle and in the process, make him the fourth manager in a row to beat the old enemy in his second game at the helm.
Allardyce said with a smile: “If history follows itself, it’s what’s going to happen. That’s what I hope, anyway. It’s got very little to do with me, it’s down to fate the fact that this run carries on.
“It’s quite bizarre to say that they’ve won five on the trot and telling me the last three managers’ second game was against Newcastle and they had all lost the first one and won the second one.
“I’m just hoping that it continues to follow on this Sunday.”