Defence is Sam Allardyce’s top priority

Sam Allardyce Sunderland

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Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce says his side must improve defensively if they are to retain their Premier League status.

The Stadium of Light outfit held a 1-0 lead over Crystal Palace at the break on Tuesday but then needed a last-gasp strike from Fabio Borini to salvage a 2-2 draw after two goals in seven second-half minutes from Palace’s Connor Wickham.

Allardyce has now urged his side to become more resilient and feels they must learn to keep clean sheets to avoid the drop down to the Championship.

“Still the ultimate problem is the ultimate problem – we concede too many,” he told the Sunderland Chronicle. “Until the lads get a grip on themselves and say we’re going to score one goal and win this game with that, then it’ll stay like that.

“We haven’t won a game 1-0 since I’ve been here. When the pressure comes on, that’s what you’ve got to be capable of.

“The best result I could have got on Tuesday was a 1-0 because it would have shown we were capable of doing it.

“But we didn’t. We lost our cool for five minutes, let them score two and in the end got ourselves a draw.”

The Black Cats face a big test on Saturday as they travel to Southampton who have managed three wins in their last five home games.

Sunderland are 6.00 to take all three points at St Mary’s and claim what would be just a third win away from home in the Premier League this season.

Allardyce’s men are currently outside the bottom three on goal difference alone, with Sunderland 1.40 to be relegated at the end of the season.

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