JOZY ALTIDORE has been given the medical all-clear to participate in Sunderland’s pre-season tour of Portugal.
Altidore is due to fly directly to the Algarve today to link up with the rest of the Sunderland squad after being granted extra time off during the summer due to his World Cup commitments with the USA.
The 24-year-old has now fully recovered from the hamstring injury which saw his participation in Brazil limited to just 22 minutes in the US’s opening group game against Ghana.
And he will be able to play a full part in Sunderland’s training sessions in Portugal, with the rest of the Black Cats squad flying out this morning for a nine-day stint on the Continent.
But Altidore will also face the added demand of playing catch-up to the fitness levels of his team-mates, with the £7million striker pencilled in to participate in extra individual sessions in Portugal.
“Jozy will be in Portugal with us. He will fly directly to Portugal today,” said Poyet.
“I’ve been in touch with him and he is fine, fully fit – his hamstring is no problem.
“It’s going to be a short pre-season for him and he’s going to have to run a little bit in Portugal, apart from playing football with us in the afternoons.”
Altidore admitted that seeing his World Cup dreams ruined by injury was one of the lowest points of his career.
But the former AZ Alkmaar man will now need to focus on resurrecting his Sunderland career after enduring a miserable first season at the Stadium of Light, with just one Premier League goal for the Black Cats.
Poyet sees Altidore, Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher contending for Sunderland’s central striker role and is hoping the American can turn his fortunes around in the new season.
“It was difficult for Jozy last year, but hopefully he can become an important player for us this season,” added the Sunderland head coach.
Sunderland face Spanish club Recreativo de Huelva on Tuesday, before tackling two Portuguese outfits – Madeira-based Nacional on Wednesday and Vitoria Setubal next Saturday. All three matches will be played in Albufeira.