LEWIS GRABBAN is happy to continue shouldering Sunderland’s goalscoring responsibilities, but is confident some of his team-mates will start to come to the fore once results begin to turn.

Grabban scored his tenth Championship goal of the season in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa, a remarkable return given Sunderland’s position at the foot of the table.

Only two Championship players have scored more league goals than the 29-year-old, and despite missing four games through injury earlier in the season, Grabban has still claimed almost half of the Black Cats’ goals.

Loading article content

His importance to the club’s prospects of pulling clear of the relegation zone cannot be overstated, but while his manager, Chris Coleman, has spoken of the need to start spreading the goals around, Grabban is happy to be the focal point of Sunderland’s attacking hopes.

“There’s always that responsibility on the forward,” said the Bournemouth loanee, who finished the 2013-14 season with 22 goals to his name as the Cherries were promoted to the top-flight. “He’s got to try and score goals, and that’s what the forward players are there for.

“Once we get going and we get a bit of luck, other people will chip in. There’s people that are more than capable of doing that.

“You just have to have that belief. If you’ve got it, then you’ve got it, but if you don’t then you give up. We’re not giving up, and we’re just waiting for things to change and for us to do the right things.”

Grabban should have plenty of belief at the moment given that he has scored six goals in Sunderland’s last five matches, but it would be understandable if some of his team-mates were struggling to remain upbeat given the Black Cats’ failure to win any of their last 16 league matches.

That run has left Sunderland four points adrift of safety ahead of this afternoon’s trip to fellow strugglers Burton Albion, and the bad news has not been confined to what has been happening on the field.

Off the pitch, Duncan Watmore has been ruled out of the remainder of the campaign after suffering a second cruciate ligament injury in the space of a year, and Coleman was without ten senior players for his first game in charge of his new employers on Tuesday.

If doesn’t rain on Wearside at the moment, it pours. But Grabban has urged his team-mates not to feel sorry for themselves despite their worsening plight at the foot of the table.

“It’s just the way things are going,” said Grabban. “When you’re down, you get the bad luck, the bad decisions and all the bad fortune, but it changes and then we’ll be riding it. We just have to wait.

“Obviously, it is more frustrating, but you have to have a bit more faith. We’re reaching the halfway point of the season, but a couple of wins and you’re out of it. It’s that simple.

“It’s about getting that win, but also performing well. The better we perform, the closer we’ll get to getting those wins. At the moment, we just need to raise our level of performance and that will take care of the rest.”

Grabban has played with a host of different attackers this season, and on Tuesday, he found himself playing in front of midfield duo Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman. Neither is a natural ‘number ten’, but they provided some welcome drive and energy in the attacking-midfield areas.

“Midfield runners always make it easier for the one that’s playing up top,” said Grabban. “With those two, they’re young and fresh and they’ve got legs and can run all game. It’s nice when they’re playing and get to run in between, and they track back as well.”

Sunderland’s next opportunity to kick-start their season comes at Burton, and while their opponents are hardly the most glamorous side in the second tier, the Black Cats’ horrendous run of form means they cannot afford to take anything for granted.

“Every game is big now,” admitted Grabban. “There’s pressure on every game because of the situation. We’ve been finding out more information on them (Burton), but I expect it will be tough. The Championship is tough, and a physical challenge. They’re struggling as well, so I expect it will be a tough game.”