The former England striker netted the only goal of Monday night’s game at Crystal Palace, but his future is up in the air.

Sam Allardyce praised Jermain Defoe after his priceless late winner against Crystal Palace – but admitted the Sunderland striker’s future depends on talks with owner Ellis Short.

Defoe took advantage of a howler from Palace defender Scott Dann to hit his fourth league goal of the season.

The 80th-minute strike that earned Sunderland’s first away clean sheet since May also lifted them to 18th place – within a point of North-East rivals Newcastle.

But Defoe could still be sacrificed in January to raise cash to strengthen the side if Big Sam is unable to squeeze enough funds out of Short.

The former England striker netted the only goal of Monday night’s game at Crystal Palace, but his future is up in the air

Defoe took advantage of a howler from Palace defender Scott Dann to hit his fourth league goal of the season.

The 80th-minute strike that earned Sunderland’s first away clean sheet since May also lifted them to 18th place – within a point of North-East rivals Newcastle.

But Defoe could still be sacrificed in January to raise cash to strengthen the side if Big Sam is unable to squeeze enough funds out of Short.

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Palace skipper Dann tried to shield the ball for keeper Wayne Hennessey – only for Defoe to nip in and tap into an empty net.

Triumph turned to despair just five minutes later, however, as he limped off having turned his ankle.

To lose him for any length of time would be a disaster for Allardyce, though Defoe himself was optimistic.

“The positive is that I can put weight on the ankle. Hopefully, it’s not ligaments,” he said.

Defoe, even at 33, is the kind of natural goalscorer that any team in relegation trouble should be trying to sign. He comes with a guarantee of goals.

It was every inch a smash-and-grab raid by Sunderland, but Allardyce made no apologies.

“Why should I be ashamed?” he said. “I have no problem winning 1-0 and playing exactly the way Crystal Palace play away from home.

“Counter-attacking football. Defend deep. Play on the break. We are trying to build our confidence, trying to get better as a team. The only way you do that is by putting points on the board.

“Palace do it better than us but we have done it well enough to win 1-0.”

For all their tidy play, Palace are simply toothless up front, as manager Alan Pardew recognises.

“That area has been a problem for us,” he said. “We got a lot of possession, but we could not create a sweet moment and things went the wrong way for us.

“It happens in football, you make a mistake and they capitalise and get the win.”

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