Leon Britton: Swansea City must stop Jermain Defoe
7th December 2016
Leon Britton reckons stopping old mate Jermain Defoe will be key to Swansea City's chances when they go in search of victory over Sunderland this weekend.
Britton and Defoe have been friends since they met as 14-year-olds at the Lilleshall, the English Football Association's long-time school of excellence.
Some two decades later, Britton reckons his pal looks as sharp as ever in front of goal.
Defoe netted Sunderland's winner against Leicester City last Saturday to take his tally for the calendar year to 19, a record bettered by only Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane.
And in his three games for Sunderland against the Swans, Defoe has netted no fewer than five times.
"We know we are going to have to work hard to stop Jermain," said Swans skipper Britton.
"I met him when we were both 14. He was a goalscorer then and he has been ever since.
"He works hard every day on his game and he also lives his life in the right way - he is a great professional.
"He is getting rewards for that because he still looks as sharp now as he did when he was 24.
"If you give Jermain a chance, you know he is likely to take it. That means we have to work to cut off the supply line to him."
Britton was also with Defoe at West Ham United before he made the move to Swansea back in 2002.
They have remained in touch ever since, and will be reunited in what is a significant fixture for both their clubs this weekend.
The Swans go into the game bottom of the Premier League table having been leapfrogged by Sunderland last weekend.
Bob Bradley's men were left licking their wounds after a bleak defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, and Britton admits a response is required against the Black Cats.
"What happened at Spurs was not good enough," he said.
"Sunderland have picked up a bit of form recently, but it is up to us to stick together and show the sort of character needed when you are having a tough time."