Premier League Preview: Tottenham v Sunderland
Sunderland will hope Jermain Defoe's seemingly imminent arrival from Toronto FC provides a timely boost ahead of Saturday's Premier League visit to the striker's former club Tottenham.
A move from MLS outfit Toronto has been widely reported this week, with the British media suggesting that Defoe had completed a medical on Wednesday.
The transfer is yet to be confirmed by either party, but Defoe's signing could still go through in time for the England international to feature against his old side.
Defoe enjoyed two productive spells at Spurs, either side of a stint at Portsmouth, and Sunderland will be optimistic that the striker can go some way to addressing their woes in front of goal.
With just 18 goals in 21 Premier League games, Gus Poyet's side are the second lowest scorers in the division, and they come into the weekend's meeting a point above the bottom three.
Sunderland have taken only one point from their previous four league outings, including defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool in their last two games.
The reverse fixture back in September ended in a 2-2 draw as Sunderland twice fought back from behind to earn a point and full-back Billy Jones has implored his team-mates to take encouragement from that result.
"We have got to look back at the games where we took points from Manchester United [1-1], Chelsea [0-0] and of course Tottenham, because we have already shown that we can compete with the top teams and we can take great confidence in that," he said.
"One thing that was evident when Tottenham came to the Stadium of Light was that they're a very good team, but we did really well that day and worked incredibly hard to seal a positive result."
Spurs were in action on Wednesday, as a much-changed XI overcame Burnley 4-2 in the FA Cup third-round replay at White Hart Lane.
Fringe players Paulinho, Etienne Capoue and Vlad Chiriches all found the net as Spurs came back from going 2-0 down early on and head coach Mauricio Pochettino was pleased to be given a selection headache.
"I'm happy for them, it's good to have players that push in the squad and make my decision difficult every week," he told the club's official website.
Pochettino came out in defence of misfiring striker Roberto Soldado after the Spaniard was guilty of a glaring miss against Burnley, but the form of 18-goal forward Harry Kane will likely see Soldado return to the bench in any event.
Ryan Mason's hamstring injury renders him doubtful and Erik Lamela continues to struggle with a calf problem.
For Sunderland, Liam Bridcutt is suspended following his red card against Liverpool, while Steven Fletcher and Lee Cattermole (both groin) are doubtful.