WEST Ham boss Sam Allardyce has praised Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher ahead of his team’s visit to the Stadium of Light tomorrow.
The Scotland international has scored eight goals so far for Sunderland, including five in his first five games.
Allardyce said the 25-year-old had been a big asset to the Black Cats in what he said had been a difficult season for Sunderland, adding that tomorrow’s match will be a “tough game” for the Hammers.
“He’s been tremendous,” said the West Ham boss. “You would see where Sunderland would be if he hadn’t scored the goals he has scored.
“I think that his goals are like gold in terms of the results that they’ve given Sunderland this season. Without them they would have struggled a bit more than they already have.”
Allardyce said he believed performances have been there from Sunderland but they have not scored enough goals, with only QPR and Aston Villa scoring less than Sunderland’s 21 to date.
“It’s not been about the performance, but the results haven’t come because they have not converted enough of the chances that they’ve created,” he said.
“I don’t think they’ve had too many goalscorers apart from the magnificent start Fletcher made.
“I think they should have paid a price for that in result terms but performances, particularly at Sunderland, have always been very, very good – according to our reports.
“It will be a tough game as always away from home. We want to be playing as well as we did against Manchester United to achieve a result at Sunderland.
“Anything less than that will make life difficult for us.”
West Ham completed a loan deal for Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh earlier in the week and Allardyce is ready to utilise the Morocco international, starting tomorrow.
The manager added: “I haven’t picked the side yet. Yes, he is available for selection – we’ve got lots of games coming up.
“He won’t be able to be involved in the replay against Manchester United because he wasn’t registered in time for the first game.
“We’ve the same squad as last week with Chamakh joining us from Arsenal – from our point of view he will hopefully play a big part in some good results for us between now and the end of the season.”