Gordon salutes Jones spark

Goalkeeper identifies striker as key man in relegation battle

Jones: Praised by Gordon

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Craig Gordon believes Kenwyne Jones is setting the right example to his Sunderland team-mates with his desire and determination.

The Black Cats have slipped down the table following a dismal run of results in recent weeks and are now embroiled in a relegation battle.

There have been some positives amid the disappointment and Gordon has been particularly impressed by the fighting qualities shown by Jones.

Gordon believes the striker, whose defensive work is also appreciated by the rest of the side, has a key role to play in the scrap for survival.

"Kenwyne really looks like he's got the bit between his teeth. I think he's been one of if not our best performer in the last two or three games," Gordon told the Sunderland Echo.

"When he's in the team and really up for it, he gives us a lot and he'll be a really big player for us for the rest of the season.

"He's a handful in both boxes. You can't underestimate the job he does for us defensively when he comes back to help out at corners and free kicks. He clears everything.

"He's been a threat up top as well and we need everyone in the team to be playing with that spark and energy now."

Focus

Jones' future was the subject of intense speculation last month when he was linked with a switch to Liverpool.

Manager Steve Bruce was concerned that the rumours might unsettle Jones but Gordon insists the players must now focus solely on trying to stay in the Premier League.

"Kenwyne's got on with his job," said the goalkeeper. "When there's a lot of talk in the papers, there's nothing you can do about it.

"The transfer window's been closed a couple of weeks now and we all know where we stand. This is the squad that's got to get us moving back up the table.

"I don't know if Kenwyne was distracted or not - you'd have to ask him that - but from my point of view, I'd say we've had too many games to think about to get carried away with headlines.

"We're having a tricky run and need to kick-start things again with a win as soon as possible so it's good that all the transfer stuff is out of the way and we can keep our minds on the job."