Sunderland boss pleased with Fletcher’s response after exclusion

Sunderland's Steven Fletcher.
Sunderland's Steven Fletcher.
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STEVEN FLETCHER’S first goals since December are just reward for his reaction to being dropped, says Gus Poyet.

Fletcher was left out of the Sunderland squad entirely for the draw against Spurs three weeks ago, but after going close against Swansea last weekend, he netted a double against Stoke to secure the Black Cats’ first Premier League victory of the campaign.

Sunderland boss Poyet admits Fletcher wasn’t happy to be left out, but says the Scottish international has come back impressively to force his way into the starting XI and secure his place there for the short-term after netting his first and second goals of the season.

Poyet said: “I’m very pleased for Fletch because I know how hard it was for him to be in the situation a few weeks ago where I left him out of the squad.

“Those are decisions, like I always say.

“He wasn’t happy, but he took it professionally.

“Before we played Swansea, we were waiting to see something from Fletch. He was coming back and training to his best.

“He had the chance to score the other day, but in training this week he was outstanding.

“I always say that the best way for you to be picked is Saturday at 3 o’clock.

“If you play well, then you’ve got a better chance to play the following week.

“The second part is training. Fletch deserved to play and that’s why we played with the shape that we did.

“It’s trying to get the best out of the team and to win games.”

Fletcher’s inclusion saw Connor Wickham move to the left flank, yet the pair combined in the fifth minute for the latter to net his first Premier League goal of the campaign.

“I thought Connor was very good up front as the main striker,” added Poyet.

“But to put Fletcher in that shape, I asked Connor to go a bit wide and he likes it.

“It’s surprising that he likes it, although I would prefer to play him down the middle.

“But he likes to face the opposition and run.

“The third goal showed you why he likes to play in that position - it was an outstanding run, power, ability and vision.”

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