Sunderland boss David Moyes: England call-up will boost Jermain Defoe
Sunderland boss David Moyes has hailed Jermain Defoe's return to the England squad after a four-year absence and called on him to step up his goalscoring streak in order to keep the Black Cats in the top flight.
Defoe has struck 14 goals this season to give his side a glimmer of hope in their latest survival mission, and his impact has never been more required than Saturday's potentially crucial Premier League clash with travel-sick Burnley.
With his club reeling from the news defender Jan Kirchhoff's recovery from a knee injury will be delayed by at least four weeks, Moyes believes Defoe's international revival could have been particularly timely.
Moyes said: "I think it's a boost to Jermain and hopefully it gives the whole club a lift because we need his goals and we need more goals.
"It's less and less likely that older players get call-ups when they've been out of the team for a while. You get players like Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney who play right through to their mid-thirties, but when you've been out of the squad, it shows your professionalism in never giving up on it."
Moyes had hoped to bring the influential Kirchhoff back into contention after three months out with hamstring and knee injuries, but the German suffered an adverse reaction after playing an hour of a recent under-23 match against Manchester United.
He added: "Jan has unfortunately had a recurrence of his knee problem and it looks like it is going to keep him out for a minimum of four weeks.
"I don't think there is any damage, but it is going to take longer than we thought to heal."
Sunderland go into Saturday's game six points adrift of safety and, on the face of it, could hardly have wished for more favourable opponents than the Clarets, who have taken just two points on their travels so far this season.
But Burnley boss Sean Dyche believes his side's dismal away form will pile all the pressure on rock-bottom Sunderland.
Dismissing the notion of mind games, Dyche insisted it is inevitable that fans of other teams in the top flight will harbour strong expectations of claiming three points whenever his own side are the visitors.
Dyche said: "There will be a bigger expectation at their place because their fans will see it as 'you've got to beat them' - it's not mind games, I'm just trying to see how fans think.
"A couple of Liverpool fans told me it was very rare to see a Liverpool side trying to kill the game last week so I think that's a back-handed mark of respect for us, considering we haven't won away.
"The energy was good and some of the quality, so although we haven't won away there are strong signs of what we can do - but we have to add to that because factually we still haven't won a game."
Dyche is eager to break the away-day duck before the end of the season but knows it will pale into insignificance compared to the mighty achievement of securing his side's top-flight status with some games to spare.
Barring a colossal collapse, the Clarets ought to coast to survival leaving Dyche to reflect on the improvements made by the club since their previous Premier League campaign two years ago saw them immediately relegated back to the Championship.
Dyche added: "I think there is more experience for myself and the team - I think there's an openness to the challenge and there's certainly no over-thinking it.
"I think there's a nice balance to the thrill of being in the Premier League, but the calmness of knowing that you've got to deliver week in, week out, and there's still work to be done.
"There's a clarity to it - we know that nothing's a given, and we've got to continue to earn the right to stay in the Premier League on an ongoing basis."