Sunderland’s Jozy Altidore looking for happier times

Jozy Altidore
Jozy Altidore
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JOZY ALTIDORE is eager to start afresh for Sunderland this season after enduring a miserable opening campaign at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland splashed out £7million to bring Altidore from AZ Alkmaar last summer, yet the USA international managed just a solitary Premier League goal in 31 top flight appearances.

Altidore is expected to start this season’s curtain-raiser at West Brom on the bench, with the 24-year-old still working his way back to full fitness from the hamstring injury which brought a premature end to his World Cup.

But once he is up to speed, Altidore hopes he can draw lessons from his first year at Sunderland and prove his credentials for the Black Cats.

Altidore told the Echo: “Coming to Sunderland as a whole was different, but this is where you have to adapt.

“It was a tough year for me last year.

“I struggled, everybody struggled.

“When things don’t go well, you analyse what you can do better.

“I’ve done that and hopefully this season I can start out on the right foot.

“The first year was difficult but it is out of the way now, we stayed up and now it is a new start for everybody and you just have to try to affect the game every time you play.

“When the team is playing well, you are going to see individuals playing well.”

Altidore made his one and only appearance of pre-season as a substitute for the final 30 minutes of last weekend’s friendly against Udinese.

The striker had spent Sunderland’s training camp in Portugal working individually to catch up with the fitness levels of his team-mates after being given extra time off during the summer.

And he admits it was a relief to return to action after his last competitive appearance saw him stretchered off during the US’s opening group game in Brazil.

“Missing out on almost all the World Cup was terrible,” he said. “It was the worst thing so far in my career.

“But these things happen in sport and in life. You accept these challenges and you just have to respond to them.

“It seems like ages – a really long time ago – since the injury.

“It felt nice to get on there and to be around the team again.

“Being out in Portugal was good, to be with the guys – even though I ran for eight days straight and didn’t touch a ball!

“But that’s part of pre-season.

“Everybody has been playing and I’ve been catching up so it was nice to finally get out there and get some minutes last weekend.

“I felt fine on Saturday and hopefully over the next couple of weeks I’ll be back up to full fitness.”

With Altidore short on fitness, Poyet will turn to fellow frontmen Steven Fletcher or Connor Wickham to lead the line at the Hawthorns.

And Altidore is hoping Sunderland can start this season in more productive fashion after taking just one point from the opening eight games last time around.

He added: “We started so terribly last season, it put us behind all along.

“But that’s why West Brom is a huge game for us because we have to make sure we start well with three points.”