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Nov 19, 2013

Gus Poyet backs Jozy Altidore

Gus Poyet says Jozy Altidore's lack of goals are down to Sunderland’s failure to play to the striker’s strengths.

Jozy Altidore has struggled to replicate his international form when playing for Sunderland.
Jozy Altidore has struggled to replicate his international form when playing for Sunderland.

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USA international Altidore, 24, arrived on Wearside from Eredivisie side AZ this summer for six million pounds after scoring 31 goals in his final season in the Netherlands, but he has been unable to produce that kind of form in England.

He scored just twice in all competitions during a loan spell with Hull City in the 2009-10 season, and his only goal for Sunderland to date came in a 4-2 Capital One Cup victory over League One side MK Dons in August.

Nonetheless, Poyet -- who replaced Paolo Di Canio as Sunderland manager on Oct. 8 -- remains confident Altidore has the ability to deliver in the Premier League and feels it is down to the team to provide the right service.

“He has many good qualities but the one that tends to get overlooked is that he has an unbelievable shot on him -- so powerful," he told the Sunderland Echo. "I still can’t believe he is only 24. He hits the ball with such power and we have to use that power to best effect.

“Sometimes it is hard -- it is very easy to look at a player and say: ‘Oh, he doesn’t score goals.’ But sometimes you have to look at how you play, especially if that player has scored in other teams and not in yours.”

Altidore has scored eight times in his last 10 games for USA, including a hat trick in the 4-3 victory against Bosnia-Herzegovina in August, and Poyet feels the difference in his form for club and country is telling.

“In a situation like this, I always analyse myself when I used to play,” Poyet said. “What worked for me as a player? Well, I needed crosses, so the worst team I played in was my national team.

“In my national team in the years that I played, we were a team that played through the middle -- we never played the ball out wide. No wingers. That meant we weren’t crossing and that meant I could not score. I was rubbish!

“So then people would be saying: ‘Why is it that he is scoring so many goals in Europe when he can’t score for the national team?’ And the answer was simple -- different teams. The Uruguay team’s style did not suit my game and this is my point at Sunderland. We need to find a style and a system which plays to the strengths of our best players.

“If you don’t do that for Jozy, then it is going to be difficult for him to score and we will work on that.”

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