DAME N’DOYE is set to make his Sunderland debut in Saturday’s crucial relegation clash with Bournemouth, with Jermain Defoe predicting the striker’s muscular presence will prove a useful asset in the final four months of the season.

N’Doye took part in his first full training session at the Academy of Light yesterday, and with Danny Graham close to completing a loan move to Blackburn Rovers and Steven Fletcher edging towards a departure to Celtic, the Senegal international could be thrust straight into the Black Cats’ starting line-up this weekend.

N’Doye is the only attacking player to have moved to Wearside this month, with attempts to prise Andre Ayew from Swansea City having stalled in the last 48 hours, and given his size and aerial prowess, his promotion to the starting line-up will require a significant overhaul of the formation that has been adopted in the last few games.

That could have repercussions for Defoe, who excelled as a lone striker as he scored five goals in the space of two games against Aston Villa and Swansea.

Defoe clearly relished playing as a central striker rather than being asked to cut in from the flank, but it remains to be seen whether he forms a two-man partnership with N’Doye or returns to a role on either the left or right-hand side.

Either way, N’Doye’s performances in the remaining 16 games are likely to be crucial to Sunderland’s survival hopes, and having been impressed with the 30-year-old’s performance on the training ground yesterday, Defoe is looking forward to seeing him in competitive action.

“It’s nice to see another forward come in,” said the Sunderland striker. “I trained with him (yesterday) morning and you can see straight away that he’s strong. I’ve seen a little bit of him before to be honest, and he’s a good player.

“I think he’s someone that will help the team, and provide a presence up front. He will score goals, and it’s good to have someone like that here.

“He gives the manager a different option, and I’m sure he’s looking forward to the challenge. It’ll be nice if he gets off to a good start, but he’s joined a good team and a good bunch of lads – the team spirit here is brilliant. He’s come into a good dressing room, and I’m sure he’ll enjoy it here.”

Defoe didn’t enjoy Sunderland’s last outing, which resulted in a 4-1 defeat at his former home, White Hart Lane, but the former England international could see signs of progress in the previous games against Villa and Swansea.

Those matches saw Fabio Borini, Adam Johnson and Jeremain Lens help form a fluid attacking-midfield three, and for all that the Black Cats have slipped back into 19th position, Sam Allardyce continues to boast a number of different creative options.

“The manager has tried different things,” said Defoe. “Adam Johnson is a winger, but he can play in that number ten role because he’s clever, and he gets into good positions. He thinks quick.

“Jeremain Lens played in that number ten position against Arsenal in the cup and did well, and then did it again against Swansea. The manager has got options, which is good. It’s good to have players that can play in more than one position. The manager picks the team, but he’s got options and that’s important.”

At the start of the week, it was hoped Ayew would become another one of those options, but the installation of Francesco Guidolin as Swansea’s new boss has dealt a major blow to Sunderland’s hopes of signing the Ghanaian striker.

The Black Cats are prepared to pay around £12m for Ayew, but Swansea’s board are extremely reluctant to sell their side’s leading forward in the same week that they have finally appointed a new manager.

“There was talk of him going to Sunderland or them making a bid, but we wouldn’t even entertain that as far as I am concerned,” said Alan Curtis, who will work under Guidolin, having left his former position as interim manager.

“He is one of a number of big players for us, and we don’t want to lose anybody during the window. We want to bring people in, and we will get somebody in. But if we don’t, it’s important no one else goes out through the door.”

Sunderland will now consider alternative attacking options, with a move for Ivory Coast international Seydou Doumbia understood to be under serious consideration.

Doumbia, who is also interesting Leicester City, spent the first half of the season on loan at CSKA Moscow, scoring 11 goals, including three in the Champions League, one of which came against Manchester United.

However, he has returned to his parent club, Roma, only to be told that he will be sold on permanently this month if an acceptable offer is received.

Costel Pantilimon completed his departure from Sunderland yesterday, signing a three-and-a-half year deal at Watford.

Pantilimon left the Stadium of Light for a minimal fee after Allardyce deemed him surplus to requirements following Jordan Pickford’s return from a loan spell at Preston.

The Romania international joined Sunderland as a free agent in July 2014 following the end of his previous contract at Manchester City.

He made 49 senior appearances for the Black Cats, and there are unconfirmed suggestions that another outing would have resulted in an improved deal on Wearside.