Sam Allardyce insist Jermain Defoe is not guaranteed a starting spot at Sunderland – despite the striker’s match winner at Crystal Palace.
The former England international secured the Black Cats’ first away victory of the Premier League campaign with the only goal at Selhurst Park on Monday.
However, his 61-year-old manager is approaching team selection with an open mind, and the 3-5-2 system with which he successfully tackled Palace and which allowed Defoe to play off Steven Fletcher may not be the one with which he goes every time.
“It’s week by week, game by game. The most important thing for us is it looks like Jermain is going to be fit and having the full squad fit is always extremely important to your team and your selection process, having the availability of players to maybe adjust what you do or tweak what you do to try to win the next game.” Allardyce said.
“But at the moment, we have just got to try to get prepared to beat Stoke City the best way we can. We have been looking at that for the last two days visually and it’s up to me today and then tomorrow to select the team to try to play against Stoke City and try to get another victory if we can.”
Defoe limped off four minutes from time on Monday evening having turned his ankle, and there was concern he could be sidelined by ligament damage.
A relieved Allardyce has revealed the injury was not as serious as it looked initially and the 33-year-old could make the squad for Stoke’s trip to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
“It’s not as bad as first feared. We think he has every chance of being available for Saturday’s game,” he added.
“It looked like it was going to be probably strained ankle ligaments, but to be fair, I saw Jermain the day after and he was walking without any support, so we really hope he’s going to be okay.”
Defoe could be joined in the squad by Fabio Borini, who has played only 45 minutes since October 17 after suffering his own ankle problem, but defender Billy Jones is suspended after collecting his fifth booking of the campaign at Palace.