O'Neill backs Graham to shine
Published 19/03/2013 | 16:56
Martin O'Neill is confident Danny Graham will rediscover his touch in front of goal as Sunderland attempt to fight their way out of trouble in the Barclays Premier League.
The 27-year-old arrived at the Stadium of Light from Swansea in January as O'Neill invested £5million in an effort to take some of the burden off leading scorer Steven Fletcher. However, in his six appearances to date, the last four of them starts, he is yet to add to his total of seven goals at a time when the Black Cats desperately need firepower.
O'Neill said: "He hasn't played that much for us. What Danny would have loved to have done is what Steven Fletcher did; come in, score goals immediately, win the fans over and play very well. At the moment, both he and the side are coming to terms with a change of pattern of play, but I have got no problems that he will get some goals for us."
He added: "Obviously, he would like to get them as soon as possible. But during the course of time - he will take a little time to settle in, but sometimes it happens.
"Steven Fletcher got off to a flier and has kept it going. Danny hasn't been that lucky, but we will see. There's time."
Fletcher has contributed 11 of Sunderland's 33 league goals to date this season and with full-back Craig Gardner having added six more from his total of eight, the need for help is clear.
Graham forced an early save from Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn during Sunday's 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light.
Indeed, it was his industry which sparked the 29th-minute incident that earned Bunn a red card. However, neither he nor any of his team-mates were able to make Sunderland's advantage tell after Gardner had dragged them back into the game from the penalty spot.
The Black Cats have now gone seven league games without a victory and have taken only three points from the last 21 on offer, a return which leaves them just four points clear of the drop zone.