JOZY ALTIDORE admits he is suffering from a lack of confidence in front of goal after netting just once in the Premier League since his summer arrival at Sunderland.
But the American international believes he is starting to make a contribution in other departments after a marked improvement in his overall game during back-to-back wins against Stoke and Newcastle.
Altidore produced arguably his best performance in a Sunderland shirt during last weekend’s 3-0 victory at St James’s Park after physically dominating Newcastle’s central defensive pairing.
Yet after netting 31 times for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar last season and scoring eight goals for his country during 2013, Altidore is well aware of his barren run for the Black Cats.
The £6million front man’s sole league goal came in December’s defeat to Chelsea and he admits he is grateful for five-goal Fabio Borini and nine-goal top scorer Adam Johnson for taking some of the weight off his shoulders.
Altidore told the Echo: “To be honest, it’s been tough for me, adjusting to the team and everything.
“I demand more of myself. I’m freezing up in front of goal lately and it’s difficult.
“The confidence or quick-thinking isn’t there. I’m over-thinking things a little bit.
“Guys like Adam and Fabio are having to pick up the slack which is great. That’s important and it shows they care about the team.
“We need that because down the road, we need as many scorers as possible to get points.
“It’s a totally different system under the new manager.
“But I’m still getting chances, maybe not as many as I’d like, but I’m still getting them and freezing up.
“It’s something I’ll carry on working on in training because if I didn’t have the ability, it’d be one thing. But I know I have it.”
Altidore points to his chance to get on the scoresheet at St James’s as evidence of those goal worries after Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul took the ball off his toes, as he attempted to round the stopper during the second half.
“Thinking about it now, I should have taken a touch and shot because he came out so quick,” he said.
“I’m over-thinking things at the moment, but guys are chipping in with goals. That takes the pressure off, but I would like to get back in the goals definitely.”
Despite enjoying a spell at Hull City in the Premier League as a teenager, Altidore says it has taken him several months to get used to the different style of football with the Dutch league.
And after helping Sunderland to back-to-back league wins for the first time this season, the 24-year-old believes he is now starting to get acclimatised.
Altidore added: “I’m trying my best. The one thing I’m learning more and more, even though I was in the Premier League before, is that English football is all about desire and fighting.
“That’s one thing which is different because in Holland, the whole team is designed to play for you, to look for you always.
“In England, it’s not so much like that.
“You have guys like Phil Bardsley who can take a shot from distance or guys who can score on their own.
“You have to get used to helping the team in other ways and I’m getting used to doing that.”