Defoe signed for the Black Cats on the last day of the January transfer window for his second spell at the Stadium of Light, but has not yet started a game.


The veteran striker spent the first half of the season at Rangers, where he played less than ten minutes in the league and his last appearance came in November.



Neil expressed sympathy with Defoe’s plight as he can understand the striker’s frustrations due to his not being match-fit.


The Black Cats boss admits that Defoe is playing catch up but is running out of games this season in which to get up to speed.



“I think it’s probably frustrating for Jermain because he hasn’t come in with full fitness”, Neil said in a press conference.


“That isn’t his fault because he hasn’t been playing football.



“At the moment he’s playing catch up and we are running out of games.


“That match sharpness at the moment is difficult because he hasn’t been playing.”


Defoe has managed to make three substitute appearances for the Black Cats, but is waiting for not only his first start, but also a maiden win in his second spell with the club.