JON STEAD is hoping for some double festive cheer over the next ten days - Sunderland picking up rare points and the striker breaking his Wearside scoring duck.

The £1.8m summer buy from Blackburn is still waiting to register four months after his move to the North-East and is desperate to end his personal drought.

Stead has compared his own search for goals with the Black Cats' hunt for victories since their return to the Premiership, but the striker feels both are likely to come good sooner rather than later.

Sunderland have lost their last ten games and failed to win on home soil in 20 Premiership matches, a run dating back to thir last spell in the top-flight when they beat Liverpool on December 15, 2002.

Stead is 15 appearances into his Stadium of Light career and still waiting to break his own duck, despite some much-improved recent performances.

But Stead, knowing there are two home games out of four inside eight days, starting on Boxing Day, is convinced better times are ahead for everyone.

"I feel like I'm in a similar position to the club in general at the moment. I think if I get a goal, it will spark a whole run of them. I also think if the team can get a win, it will spark a whole run of them as well" said Stead, who has been rejoined in the Sunderland squad by striker Daryl Murphy after he was recalled from a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday.

"We just need something to get us going. If we could get a win from somewhere, I'm sure it would settle the nerves and get us back on track.

"It's difficult at the moment. It's a tough time for everyone, but we're giving it everything and that's all we can really do. It's going to take a lot to get us out of the situation we're in but we're willing to do all we can to give it a go."

Although Stead is yet to get off the mark at Sunderland, and he only found the net twice throughout the whole of last season, he points to his early form at Blackburn and at Huddersfield as the proof he will come good.

Two years ago he scored 18 times in League Two for the Terriers and turned down the opportunity to sign for Mick McCarthy in favour of moving to Blackburn Rovers under then manager Graeme Souness.

In his first 13 appearances he scored six times and was a regular member of the England Under-21s.

Now Stead wants to rediscover his scoring touch to prove McCarthy was right to make the striker Sunderland's most expensive close-season recruit.

"Once I get a goal, I tend to get going. My Blackburn career was just like that - I scored in my first two games and that seemed to carry on for the rest of the season," he said.

"It's difficult to start from not having anything behind you. When you're not scoring goals, and you're in and out of the side, it's tough to get into the flow of things. I seem to get one and then it snowballs. You hit anything and it seems to fly in for you.

"I feel my performances have improved a lot over the last month or so. I've done better in the last four or five games and I'm pleased about that. I think I have shown the manager how hungry I am."

Having had a free weekend due to Liverpool's commitment in the World Club Championship, Sunderland have had an extra week to work on the training ground before Bolton arrive on Wearside on Boxing Day.

McCarthy has worked his squad hard during that time and Stead believes the rigorous training sessions will have been to the benefit of the whole squad.

"The last week has been good. Everybody has been together and, with there being no game last weekend, it's been a chance for us to concentrate on a bit of fitness work," said the 22-year-old. "We've had a guy in who's been doing a lot of sprint work with us and that's been really helpful."

Meanwhile, McCarthy has revealed full-back Stephen Wright is unlikley to be rushed back for Bolton's visit on Boxing Day.

Wright, who played for the reserves last night, was expected to come in for the suspended Nyron Nosworthy after recovering from a calf injury. Now Justin Hoyte is likely to fill in, with either Julio Arca or Danny Collins being asked to play left-back.

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