Saha backs Sunderland double-act with Fletcher

Louis Saha

Louis Saha

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LOUIS SAHA is confident he can form an effective Sunderland strikeforce with Steven Fletcher, if manager Martin O’Neill opts to shake up his front-line at Stoke City tomorrow.

Summer signing Saha is yet to start a Premier League game for the Black Cats, but is in contention for tomorrow’s trip to the Britannia Stadium after a bright contribution from the bench in last weekend’s Wear-Tyne derby.

Top scorer Fletcher is a shoo-in to remain in the starting line-up, but with supporting cast Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and James McClean all struggling for form, Sunderland boss O’Neill could hand Saha a chance alongside the Scotland striker.

Former Manchester United and Everton frontman Saha will not try to pre-empt O’Neill’s decision, but insists he is ready to start a top flight outing after arriving at the Stadium of Light without the benefits of a pre-season campaign.

Saha said: “Fletcher is a smart player so I don’t think there would be any difficultly with a partnership. But the manager is more intelligent than me – he decides.

“I’m not in a position to hassle or anything because Fletch is doing really well. It’s only a matter of time that the team around him will click.

“I was just behind the rest of the players fitness-wise in the summer. But I’m just starting to level up now so hopefully I can get more minutes.

“As I’ve always said, I’m here to help the team make progress and I’m going to do my thing when I get my opportunity.

“It’s about the team and making sure everyone is focused on that.

“As a player you always want to play more games. But I understand the position.

“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s game. Stoke is always a hard game to play, especially away. It would be great if I got a chance.”

Sunderland have found the net just six times in their opening seven Premier League outings and face a Stoke side who have only conceded once at the Britannia this season.

But Saha is confident Sunderland’s attack will find their feet, stressing that the Black Cats’ summer signings need time to gel – Johnson, for example, starting just four league outings since his arrival from Manchester City.

The 34-year-old added: “Any team needs understandings. Sometimes things click from the start and other times you need a few games.

“Fletcher is doing really well and he’s maybe the only player whose doing really well at the moment.

“As a team, we’re defending well, we’re a good unit and it’s hard for other teams to beat us.

“Going forward is a different situation, but I think we still have to be positive. There are some great players here.

“And we’ve only had one defeat against the champions so I don’t think we’re doing bad.

“I’m sure we can still improve and that’s what we’re looking for. The lads are working really hard for that.”