JOZY Altidore’s first-team rehabilitation at Sunderland is likely to continue after Steven Fletcher suffered a recurrence of a long-standing ankle injury at the weekend, writes GRAEME ANDERSON.
The American international – who did not even make the squad for the Capital One Cup final earlier this month – replaced Fletcher at half-time in Saturday’s goalless draw against relegation rivals Crystal Palace.
And head coach Gus Poyet thought Altidore did his cause no harm, with a hard-working effort in the second 45 minutes which came close to being capped by a goal.
“Jozy came in with the right attitude and did well,” remarked Poyet. “He had a great chance, but the keeper made an important save.”
As for Fletcher, the ankle problem re-occurred when he fell awkwardly after a leap and he failed to re-emerge after the break following a disappointing first half.
The ex-Wolves striker will now have a scan, but Poyet believes he will miss at least a few weeks.
“We have to hope it is nothing serious,” he said, while also admitting that Fabio Borini continued to make a case of his own for the advanced role he played in the cup final.
“Borini is an important player and he will be important to us if we stay in the Premier League and are able to keep him,” he said.
“He’s the perfect character to have in a group of players these days – he’s the perfect professional, always positive.”
Poyet also said Altidore’s recall was a lesson that could be picked up by Emanuele Giaccherini – the Italian winger left out of the squad altogether on Saturday.
“Emanuele did not make the bench and I know how sad that will be for him,” said Poyet.
“But he must realise he has a chance for next week, the same as Jozy did when he was left out.”