HE MIGHT be topping Sunderland's scoring charts, but Anthony Le Tallec has claimed he would rather have been laying on goals for Jon Stead than hitting the back of the net himself.

The Frenchman, who is on a season-long loan at the Stadium of Light, spared the Black Cats' blushes on Tuesday night when his second goal of the season finally ended Cheltenham's resistance in the Carling Cup.

Yet, while Le Tallec's goals have proved a valuable asset in the early stages of the season, they have also served to highlight the ineffectiveness of the club's more established strikers.

Stead is still to score in a red and white shirt since making a £1.8m move from Blackburn in the summer, and the England Under-21 international cut an increasingly disconsolate figure on Tuesday as his barren run rarely looked like coming to an end.

With Sunderland's midfield hardly firing on all cylinders either, Le Tallec has sympathy for his team-mate's plight as he struggles to regain the confidence he displayed when he first moved to Ewood Park two seasons ago.

"The most important thing to me at the moment is to see Jonathan Stead score," revealed the Liverpool loanee. "It is difficult for him in this period and I hope to see him score because I am sure that will make him grow in confidence.

"It might sound a little strange, but I really would rather see him score than myself. I don't like to see my team-mate unhappy because he hasn't scored. He has the confidence of the manager but it is difficult for him.

"Andy Gray has scored and Stephen Elliott came very close to scoring against Cheltenham when he hit the post. I don't want to be the only player who scores here."

Nevertheless, when Mick McCarthy sizes up his attacking options for Sunday's North-East derby with Middlesbrough, Le Tallec's name is sure to figure prominently.

His back-post header in the 2-1 defeat to Manchester City highlighted a striker's instinct, while his calm finish on Tuesday belied the anxieties that were afflicting most of his team-mates.

His versatility makes him a valuable weapon - he can either play as an out-and-out striker or in the hole behind another centre-forward - although he still does not see himself as a genuine attacker.

"I shouldn't be the top scorer," explained Le Tallec. "I like scoring goals, but I also enjoy supplying the final pass for someone else to score.

"I like to make the passes as much as I like to score and I think that, as much as anything, is what my game is about."

Le Tallec chose to move to Sunderland this summer after struggling to force his way into the plans of Anfield boss Rafael Benitez.

Ironically, Liverpool's strikers have failed to fire since he left with the club scoring just one league goal and, had the Frenchman stayed put, he might well have found himself catapulted up the pecking order. Regrets, though, are not at the forefront of his mind.

"I like Sunderland and I know I made the right decision when I came here," he said. "I came here because I needed to play football, for my career, because the situation at Liverpool was difficult for me.

"Rafael Benitez liked to put in Spanish players, which is normal because he is Spanish. But there are also some big stars at Liverpool such as (Djibril) Cisse, (Fernando) Morientes and now (Peter) Crouch.

"The manager also likes to play one up front so I decided to leave for one year. Hopefully, I will go back to Liverpool next summer.

"That is one of my targets, but I also want to make sure that, when I leave Sunderland, they are still a Premiership club. I would like to play against them for Liverpool next year."

*Le Tallec could soon have a new French team-mate if Sunderland choose to step up their interest in former Fulham defender Martin Djetou.

The 31-year-old is a free agent after having been released by Nice in the summer and Black Cats scouts are understood to run the rule over him in recent weeks.

Read more about Sunderland here.