By Wayne Veysey

11th Dec, 2016 | 3:00pm

Karren Brady: West Ham relegation rival must wrap lead man in Christmas paper

By Harry Sykes

Karren Brady has claimed she would be tempted to go to great lengths to protect Jermain Defoe from injury if she was Sunderland manager David Moyes.

The veteran striker has scored eight of Sunderland’s 14 Premier League goals this season and is their main hope of avoiding relegation.

Defoe, 34, was also integral to the Black Cats staying up by the skin of their teeth under former manager Sam Allardyce last season.

West Ham managing director Brady is in no doubt about the significance of Defoe to her club’s direct relegation rival and explained what Moyes should do to make sure his key player does not break down.

“Defoe has given a struggling side half a chance of staying up,” wrote Brady in her Sun column on Saturday. “If I were David Moyes I’d wrap him up in Christmas paper, plasters and more bandages than an Egyptian Mummy.

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“If Defoe stays fit, the Cats stay up. If he gets crocked, as the song goes, ‘There may be trouble ahead… ’”

Defoe was not able to get on the scoresheet on Saturday as Sunderland fell to a 3-0 defeat to fellow relegation battlers Swansea.

The loss left the Black Cats bottom of the table with 11 points from 15 league matches, although Moyes’ side are only a point adrift of West Ham.

Brady’s club travel to Liverpool on Sunday afternoon aiming to cause what would be a huge upset given that the home side are third in the table with a game in hand.

In other West Ham news, the club’s deal for a new signing in January has edged closer and is now likely to happen.