HAVING made his first start for Sunderland at the weekend, Danny Graham is confident he can form a deadly partnership with Steven Fletcher, but understands a two-man attack may not always form part of Martin O'Neill's plans.
Graham arrived on Wearside in a £5.5million switch from Swansea City is January, but the Gateshead-born forward had to wait until last weekend's defeat at West Brom for his first start.
Since his arrival large sections of Black Cats supporters have been calling for Graham and Fletcher to start up front together in a bid to improve Sunderland's goal tally, which is one of the lowest in the Premier League.
They were made to wait to see the partnership, though, and although the pair showed glimpses of good link-up play at the Hawthorns, O'Neill could still revert back to his favoured system that uses one natural striker supported by three attacking midfielders.
Whether the Black Cats boss saw enough to keep faith in the partnership remains to be seen, but Graham believes he and the Scotsman will get goals should they start together more often.
"I understand the fans wanting us to play two up front, but it's not their decision, it's the manager's decision and he'll do what he feels right to win football matches," Graham said.
"He's brought me in and I want to play, Steven wants to play and so does everyone else.
"It's up to us to train hard and build on relationships in the team and see where it takes us. If we get a run of games going together I'm sure we will get goals."
Last week's defeat to West Brom was Sunderland's third successive loss in the Premier League and they have dropped to 15th in the table after teams around them picked up results at the weekend.
Fulham are the visitors to the Stadium of Light this weekend and the striker hopes some home support can help the side break their losing streak.
He said: "We want to get back to winning ways and we need to pick up points and give the fans a performance they have deserved over the last few weeks.
"We haven't won in three, but the fans have been right behind us. They've been superb and we'll need them from now until the end of the season.
"We've got ten games to get as many points as we can and we're focused on looking up to where we could go rather than over our shoulders."
After picking up the Player of the Year award at Sunday's North East Football Writers' dinner, Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet has spoken out after his agent indicated the 24-year-old may have to leave Wearside in order to regain the number one jersey for Belgium.
"Our ambition is for Simon to play somewhere that he can engage in competition with Thibaut Courtois for the place in goal for Belgium," said Guy Vandermissen, the player's representative.
"Courtois is fortunate that he is playing for a team that has been doing well lately."
However, Mignolet quickly responded to the suggestions, reaffirming he is happy on Sunderland.
The keeper said: "I felt I wanted to communicate with the club's fans following the media reaction to comments made by my representative, which I feel were taken out of context and not a true reflection.
"Of course, my ambition is to regain the number one spot with my national team, but I feel I can do that with Sunderland.
"I was playing as Belgium's number one a year ago and hopefully that can be the case in the future.
"I am happy at Sunderland - a club I am proud to represent. I will continue focusing on my football, starting with Saturday's game against Fulham."
Meanwhile, Black Cats winger James McClean has deleted his Twitter account after a row over a tweet in which he named an Irish rebel anthem as his favourite song.
The Wolfe Tones song, The Broad Black Brimmer, tells the story of a boy whose father is killed fighting for the IRA.
The tweet sparked a media storm and he has since deleted his profile on the social networking site.
More Sunderland AFC News
- Arsenal midfielder backs Mannone to bounce back at Sunderland
- Poyet could call on new boy at Crystal Palace after second defensive horror show
- Graham move collapses as Poyet ponders changes
- 'Blame me for not eradicating Sunderland's horrible howlers' says Poyet after Arsenal win
- Sunderland fall in to relegation zone but Johnson insists 'we're not in crisis'
- Match ratings: Sunderland 0 Arsenal 2
- Poyet left wondering when Sunderland will stop making mistakes
- Match report: Sunderland 0 Arsenal 2
- North-East Football Live: Saturday, October 25, 2014
- 'Arsenal have problems, we have to solve our own' says Sunderland's Swede