Sunderland manager Gus Poyet praised the contribution of striker Jozy Altidore, during his side’s 2-1 Capital One Cup win over Southampton.
Altidore, who celebrated turning 24 on Thursday, played the full 90 minutes for the Black Cats, a key player in both his team’s goals.
Drawing a good save from Kelvin Davis with a header before Phil Bardsley tapped in the rebound, he also laid what proved to be the match winning goal for Sebastian Larsson four minutes from time.
The victory means Sunderland will face Chelsea in the next round of the competition, and although Altidore did not score, Poyet was still eager to praise his striker’s selfless attitude.
“Today he was a big part of the first goal,” Poyet said. “He headed it down properly, strongly, he was in the right place the goalkeeper made a save [before Phil Bardsley scored]. The second one which is the key goal of the game, another striker would think about himself and have a shot for himself, he thought about the team so you have to give him credit for giving it to Seb Larsson to score.
“There’s not many people with that character in his situation. I know plenty and I’ve played with plenty of strikers in that situation would have a shot. They don’t care about anything but themselves. I’m very pleased for him and we need to be really happy for what he has done for us.”
Still adjusting to life in the Premier League following a summer move from AZ Alkmaar, Altidore found goals difficult to come by under former manager Paolo Di Canio.
However, with Poyet still in the early throes of his tenure at the Stadium of Light, the 45-year-old is optimistic that his style of play will see the US international gain more chances in front of goal.
“Overall the more he contributes and the more we play,” he said. “I will tell you the more chances he will get. I think today was probably the first clear chance he has got with a header [in the second half]. I know he wants to play down the middle, I know plenty of things but we need to manage it.”