SUNDERLAND boss Gus Poyet says striker Steven Fletcher, Connor Wickham and Jozy Altidore have been left in no doubts about their goalscoring responsibilities this season.
So far, none of the trio have broken their Premier League ducks, although Wickham netted in the 3-0 Capital One Cup win at Birmingham City.
And Poyet says that although he wants his forwards to be genuine team players, they will ultimately be judged on their goals.
“I’m going to challenge the three strikers to score goals, without being selfish,” said the Uruguayan. “Of course, any good striker is a little bit selfish.
“But if somebody is really selfish, they’re never going to play.
“Having said that, if a striker is selfish and they score, they’ve got a great chance to play.
“It’s a good way to manage them, by saying: ‘right, you need to score’.
“The message is, if you score goals, then it’s you who will play.
“We will try to help them in a few things, we will work hard on that, and then it’s up to them.”
So far this season, it has been the most experienced and most proven Premier League striker, former Wolves and Burnley man Fletcher, who has been handed the lead role in the opening three league games.
And while the Scotland international has yet to find the back of the net, he feels that he and his fellow forwards have a much better chance of scoring with the squad reinforced by some quality new arrivals.
The 27-year-old told the Echo: “It was always going to be a summer of change after so many players left at the end of last season.
“But the boys who’ve been brought in have been great additions to the squad.
“I think, after last season, the gaffer saw what we needed.
“He’s sat down with the people at the club and addressed what needed to be added to the squad.”
Fletcher pointed out that the proof of improvement can be seen by the strength of the first-team squad in games.
“We’ve brought good players in and I think it’s showed with the bench,” he said.
“We’ve got subs now who can come on and make a difference.
“We’ve got options and I don’t think that’s something we had last season.”
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