Jozy Altidore is hopeful that he can forge an effective strike partnership with Sunderland teammate Steven Fletcher now that the Scotland international is over his injury problems.
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Altidore started up front alongside Fletcher for only the second time this season on Sunday in the defeat of Newcastle as Black Cats manager Gus Poyet opted for an orthodox 4-4-2 formation.
And the United States international is now keen to see Fletcher secure a run of games in the first team after the pair played a significant role in both Sunderland goals to help bring to an end the club’s run of six successive Premier League defeats.
“It has been difficult for him because he has been out injured a lot and he was only training a little bit until recently,” Altidore told the Sunderland Echo. “But it has been great to have him out training again and when he is on the field in match situations it gives everybody else room to operate and be more dangerous.
“We have worked on set-pieces quite a bit so it was nice to see one work out with Fletch scoring. We just need to get him healthy and keep him that way.”
After netting just his second league goal of the season at the weekend, Fletcher is hopeful that the derby-day success will serve as a launch pad towards their aim of Premier League survival.
“We’ve still got a long season ahead of us,” he told the Sunderland Echo. “But now we just want to take the momentum from the derby into the next game at Hull. We’ve been able to use the boost from Sunday in training this week. But we know it’s not one game, we’ve got a lot of matches coming up and we need to take this into the next ones.
“It would have been sore even if I hadn’t done my shoulder because of the way I landed. It was fine, it went away straightaway. Even when we were tiring, we knew we had a togetherness in the team and we were pushing each other.
“I was getting tired, but Jozy said to me ‘come on’, and I was doing the same with him. That’s what we needed to do and then Fab [Fabio Borini] came on and scored an absolute screamer.”