JERMAIN DEFOE is eager to snatch the FA Cup bragging rights from ex-Spurs team-mate Scott Parker – if the Fulham skipper features against Sunderland tomorrow.
New Sunderland signing Defoe will make his Stadium of Light bow in red and white this weekend, as the Black Cats bid to avoid an upset and secure their place in the fifth round of the cup.
There could be a familiar face in the opposition line-up for Defoe, albeit veteran midfielder Parker is an injury doubt after coming off with a knock in Wednesday night’s Championship win over Nottingham Forest.
Defoe remains full of admiration for Parker, with the pair part of the Spurs side who finished fourth in the Premier League three years ago, while they were also regulars together in the England squad.
“He’s a special player Scotty,” Defoe told the Echo.
“I’ve always said he’s old school - really professional, does everything right and that’s why he’s still playing.
“He’s a really good guy and if you speak to anyone whose played with him, they all love him. He’s a proper captain.
“He’s still a good player too, works hard for the team.
“I’m sure he enjoyed his time at Tottenham and he was a key player for us.
“But hopefully I can shake his hand after the game and say ‘unlucky Scotty’.”
Sunderland just did enough to get the better of Championship opposition in the last round of the cup after a nervy 1-0 win over Leeds.
Avoiding an upset tomorrow may have more ramifications than merely on Sunderland’s cup progress, with Gus Poyet’s side desperately needing to restore some confidence on their own patch.
The Black Cats have won just once at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League this season and face a crunch clash against Burnley in eight days time.
That is the first of four successive home games against sides in the thick of the relegation dogfight, with the visits of QPR, West Brom and Aston Villa on the horizon.
“Hopefully we can go into the Burnley game on the back of a win and just get that winning mentality,” added Defoe. “And I think if you look at the fixtures, there’s games where we can pick up some points if we can go on a good run.
“I believe we can do that, because there were spells in the Tottenham game where we did everything right.
“Hopefully if there’s the same performance in the next few games, we’ll see what happens. It’s a special competition, I’ve always enjoyed FA Cup games.
“We’re looking forward to it and I think it’s important that we win just for the confidence of the team.”