STEVEN Fletcher has every chance of starting against Swansea tomorrow after new Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet confirmed the Scot’s remarkable recovery from a serious shoulder injury.
The Scotland international was expected to be out for at least six weeks after falling heavily in the defeat at West Brom last month which marked Paolo Di Canio’s last match in charge of the Black Cats.
But he has made a swift return and Poyet confirmed that, having trained all week, the former Wolves striker is available to start the game, rather than just come off the substitutes’ bench.
“He is one of the fittest we have at the club right now because he has not been away on international duty and he has been able to train all week,” revealed the new head coach, preparing for his first match in charge.
“He has been training more than anybody, starting on Monday, and has had a full week without problems.
“It is a great bonus for us because he is a natural goalscorer and, when I first took the job, it did not look like he would be available straight away.
“He has done well to get back so soon and the medical team have done well too.”
Poyet also confirmed that fellow striker Jozy Altidore, who only arrived back in Sunderland yesterday afternoon after his international commitments with the United States, is also available for the game.
He said: “Jozy has no injuries and is fit to play, but he has only just back in the country and has had no time to train with us – like a few of the players – which is obviously not an ideal situation.”
Poyet could start both men up front in a 4-4-2 formation, or choose either as a lone striker and leave his team-mate on the bench.
But the Uruguayan says his selection decision is likely to be a last-minute one.
“I know I must pick the right team for this game – that is a big responsibility on me,” said the former Brighton manager.
“With so little time to work with the players coming back from the international games, I will concentrate on training first and see how we go.
“I need the players to understand how we plan to play and I need them to understand quickly.
“The reality is, though, that I do not have too many options in terms of who I play and where, and I already have a pretty good idea of where I want to go in terms of who I start the game with.”