Sam Allardyce has confirmed his interest in signing Jermain Defoe but insists he is not working on potential transfer targets until Crystal Palace’s Premier League status is secure.
The manager earlier this season described Defoe, alongside Nicolas Anelka, as the finest striker he has worked with and has also spoken of his desire to permanently recruit the on-loan Mamadou Sakho.
Defoe was Sunderland’s key player when they impressively survived under Allardyce last season and is expected to leave the club this summer after their relegation to the Championship was confirmed.
His recent return to the England squad and the 2018 World Cup also provide further incentives for the 34-year-old to continue playing regular Premier League football, and Allardyce said: “If we are safe and Jermain Defoe is available, and he wants to come to Crystal Palace, I would be interested.
“Until that time, when we are safe, I can’t pursue that. When we are safe, someone else who is already safe may already have done it. Who knows?”
He was also asked about reported interest in Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton, and responded: “I’m not interested in who will come and go. When we’re secure and safe in the Premier League, as hopefully we are, we can talk about all the agents ringing in with their players.
“I’ll tell you if the agent is telling the truth or not.”
Allardyce continues to stress that Palace are not too strong to be relegated, despite the significant improvement they have displayed since February and the fine form of Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke.
He also spoke of his sympathy for David Moyes’ plight at Sunderland.
“It’s nonsense (to say anyone is too good to be relegated),” he said.
“I was at Bolton when Leeds went down. They were an outstanding talented side at the time. The negativity had sunk into the team, no matter how good they were.
“Alan Smith, Mark Viduka, what players they were and they still got relegated. ‘Too good’ is not a term I like to use.
“What we have to do now is try to finish it off as quickly as we can.
“I know how difficult Sunderland is. I know how difficult it is to continue to cope with what has been an ongoing problem for many years, where it is always a case of ‘Can we survive?’
“The law of averages says one of us was going to slip up. The ongoing problem at Sunderland is that cycle is very difficult to break for any manager because of what’s happened previously. David found that difficult this year.
“I’m disappointed for Sunderland and for the fans and Ellis Short, who has invested a lot of money, and my mate Moysey. Will they bounce back? That depends.”
Palace can effectively ensure survival with victory at Manchester City on Saturday.
They remain without the injured Yohan Cabaye, Scott Dann, James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho, while Andros Townsend also faces a late fitness test after suffering what Allardyce described as a “twinge” in his Achilles.