Kevin Phillips has insisted that Kyle Lafferty can be a “hero” for Sunderland if he can fire them into the League One play-offs this season. 

The European Golden Shoe winner, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, claimed it is “pressure on” for the 32-year-old following Charlie Wyke‘s injury.

Lafferty is expected to replace the in-form number nine after he suffered a shoulder injury in the 2-0 defeat to Portsmouth on Saturday.

The return date of the 27-year-old is yet unknown with manager Phil Parkinson waiting for scan results to determine the extent of the injury.

When asked if 6ft 4in Lafferty can fill the boots of the in-form striker, Phillips told Football Insider: “I think he can. But when Wyke has been in good form – his confidence will be high – it is a blow.

“That is why you bring players in for cover and one of the reasons Phil Parkinson has brought him in. Lafferty now, it is over to you. Pressure on.

“He has played in big games in Scotland like the Old Firm. He has got to come in now and fill the void. If he can come in and score goals now he can make himself a hero, especially if he can get Sunderland into the play-offs. I hope he can get off to a good start.” 

Wyke, forced off at half-time against Pompey, scored in a man-of-the-match performance at Tranmere in his previous outing for the Black Cats.

The Mackems will hope that Lafferty, who signed a short-term deal at the Stadium of Light in January, can find form quickly in a red and white shirt.

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