Graham’s desperate to break his Sunderland duck

Danny Graham in action for Sunderland against Liverpool.
Danny Graham in action for Sunderland against Liverpool.
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DANNY Graham is desperate to rubber-stamp his second coming at Sunderland by breaking his Black Cats duck.

Graham has started two of Sunderland’s last three games after returning to the first-team frame following 18 months out of the picture at the Stadium of Light.

The 29-year-old has made the most of the olive branch handed him by Gus Poyet, with the £5million frontman making a positive contribution in six games in a red and white shirt over the last month.

But a first Sunderland goal continues to elude Graham, who has drawn a blank in his 20 appearances for the Black Cats since arriving from Swansea City two years ago.

Graham said: “It would be massive (to get that first goal). Obviously, as a striker you want to be scoring goals and doing well for your football club, but that’s not been the case so far for me.

“I know that, I’m not going to hide.

“It’s up to me to work hard and make sure I get in the positions and not shy away from an opportunity when it comes my way.

“Once one goes in, I’m sure a lot more will follow. The first goal would be nice, but the most important thing is the team – we need to pick up points and make sure we’re not going to struggle come the end of the season.”

However Graham is not alone in struggling for goals, with fellow frontmen Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham netting a modest eight between them this season, only one of which has come so far in 2015.

That was what prompted head coach Poyet to bring in Jermain Defoe in the January transfer window, with Sunderland hopeful that the England international will be fit for this weekend’s crunch clash against West Brom.

But Defoe’s signing has prompted Poyet to deploy two strikers, with Graham well aware that there is an opportunity for whoever is capable of finding the net.

“We’re all starting from the same place,” said Graham. “All four strikers will be playing at different times and we all bring different things to the team. But Jermain has given everyone around the place a lift. You can see that if he gets one chance, he will more than likely put it away and that’s what we’ve been missing.

“To have a player of his calibre at the football club is massive and it’s going to help us.

“Everyone wants to play up front with him and help him and the team do well.”

Graham’s opportunity to get off the mark in last weekend’s FA Cup loss at Bradford was marred by an ugly clash of heads with Bantams defender Rory McArdle, which left the Sunderland man with blurred vision and needing stitches.

He is still sporting a black eye and has been restricted to light training this week, but should be in contention to face the Baggies on Saturday.

“It was a good clattering, but that’s part and parcel of the game,” added Graham.

“I didn’t feel too bad afterwards, but when I came back on and headed a few balls my vision was getting a bit blurry so the doctor thought it was best I came off, although I didn’t want to.

“I’ve had a few days of lighter training this week and hopefully I’ll be involved on Saturday.”