Graham keen to end goal drought

The former Swansea striker has forced his way back into contention for a starting place in recent weeks and believes his first goal could be the first of many at the Stadium of Light.

Speaking to the Sunderland Echo he said: “It would be massive (to get that first goal). Obviously, as a striker you want to be scoring goals and doing well for your football club, but that’s not been the case so far for me.

“I know that, I’m not going to hide. It’s up to me to work hard and make sure I get in the positions and not shy away from an opportunity when it comes my way.

“Once one goes in, I’m sure a lot more will follow, but the most important thing is the team. We need to pick up points and make sure we’re not going to struggle come the end of the season.”

The 29-year-old, a former Middlesbrough trainee, arrived at Sunderland in a ??5m move from the Liberty Stadium in January 2013 under then manager Martin O’Neill, but having failed to find the back of the net in 13 appearances at the end of that campaign, during which the Northern Irishman was relieved of his duties, he became surplus to requirements.

He spent the whole of last season on loan, initially at Hull and then Middlesbrough, and joined Wolves on a similar basis for two months earlier in the current campaign.

However, his return in January and the subsequent arrival of Jermain Defoe have given him a new lease of life and he is relishing the prospect of competing with Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham to partner the England international once the newcomer shakes of a calf injury.??

“We’re all starting from the same place,??? Graham said. ???All four strikers will be playing at different times and we all bring different things to the team.

“But Jermain has given everyone around the place a lift. You can see that if he gets one chance, he will more than likely put it away and that’s what we’ve been missing.

“To have a player of his calibre at the football club is massive and it’s going to help us. Everyone wants to play up front with him and help him and the team do well.”