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Sunderland in trouble due to fitness - Defoe

Jermain Defoe played under Dick Advocaat last season. Credit: PA

Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe believes the club's failings this season are due to a lack of fitness.

Under Dick Advocaat Sunderland had a poor start to the season and have needed re-energising under Sam Allardyce, who has improved player performance since his arrival at the Stadium of Light, something that hasn't gone unnoticed by Defoe.

It's happened because of the start of the season. We just weren't good enough and we weren't fit enough.

If you look at the fitness stats now - the running stats and the high intensity stats, that side of it - we were so far off, so far off where we are now. Look at the [opening day] game against Leicester - we were blown away. It was difficult.

Now it's like a different team. The first thing the manager [Allardyce] said when he came in, we had a meeting and he said, 'You're not fit enough.' He said, 'I'll get you fit and that's all you need' because we've got top players and internationals.

But if you can't run, how are you meant to perform for 95 minutes?

– Jermain Defoe speaking to The Journal

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Norwich match win or bust for Sunderland - M'Vila

Yann M'Villa wants three points. Credit: PA

Yann M'Vila has warned Sunderland they have to win their "cup final" at Norwich if they are to stand any chance of avoiding relegation from the Premier League.

The Black Cats head for Carrow Road in next Saturday's early kick-off knowing the game is if not a winner-takes-all showdown, then not far short of one with the Canaries four points better off than Sam Allardyce's men having played a game more.

We have to win against Norwich, there's no question of a draw. We have to take the points and absolutely have to win at any cost.

It's like a derby, a cup final and we have to approach it like that. There will be pressure on both teams, but more on us because there's four points between us.

We absolutely need to win because if we draw, Norwich will still have that four-point gap.

– Yann M'Vila

Starting XI's: Sunderland v Leicester

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Sunderland to terminate Eboue deal

Emmanuel Eboue looks set to leave. Credit: PA

Sunderland have confirmed they will terminated the contract of defender Emmanuel Eboue following advice from the Football Association.

The Premier League club have given notice to Eboue their intention to end the deal and given the Ivorian two weeks to appeal.

Sunderland AFC has been advised by the Football Association that Emmanuel Eboue has been placed under an immediate suspension from football and all football-related activity for a period of one year, by Fifa.

The suspension relates to a monetary dispute between the player and a former agent, which precedes his time at Sunderland AFC and was not something that the club was made aware of by the player.

Eboue signed a contract with Sunderland AFC until the end of the current season and the club has therefore given notice of its intention to terminate the contract. The player has two weeks in which to appeal this decision.

– Sunderland statement

Sunderland midfielder confident of survival

Jan Kirchhoff has found form for Sunderland. Credit: PA

Sunderland midfielder Jan Kirchhoff has urged his team-mates to keep the faith after suffering yet another late blow in their efforts to crawl out of relegation trouble.

The Black Cats came within seven minutes of a seventh successive derby victory over Newcastle at St James' Park on Sunday, a result which would have lifted them out of the Premier League drop zone, albeit only on goal difference.

However, Aleksandar Mitrovic's late equaliser, which cancelled out Jermain Defoe's 44th-minute opener, denied them two extra points for the second time in as many games and left them in great peril once again.

We are still above Newcastle, we are still in a position to stay in the league. We are two points behind Norwich, who have one game fewer, so it's all in our own hands.

We can stay in this mentality, to be sharp, to be focused and believe in winning our games. That's how we can go on.

I am really comfortable and I have the feeling we can stay in the league and are good enough to stay in the league.

– Jan Kirchhoff

Eboue pens contract with Sunderland

Former Arsenal full-back Emmanuel Eboue has joined Sunderland for the remainder of the season after impressing during a trial, the Black Cats have confirmed.

The 32-year-old former Ivory Coast international, who was released by Turkish club Galatasaray last summer, has been training with Sam Allardyce's squad for several weeks.

Allardyce revealed last week that Eboue would be offered a deal. Credit: PA

Allardyce revealed last week that Eboue would be offered a deal and will now hope he can regain the form and match-fitness he showed during his six and a half seasons in the Barclays Premier League with the Gunners.

The Black Cats boss said at the time: "It would be wrong of me to turn down a player with such great experience of the Premier League, Champions League, international football, not to think that he could play a part for us in our fight against relegation this season.

"He's a terrific guy, a very, very good talker as well as a good player. Hopefully when the test comes, he is fit enough to cope."

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