Sunderland striker Fletcher will bounce back, despite Spurs snub

Connor Wickham
Connor Wickham
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STEVEN FLETCHER will bounce back after being left out of Sunderland’s squad to face Spurs, says Gus Poyet.

Fletcher was dropped from both the starting XI and the matchday 18 in the 2-2 draw against Spurs, despite featuring in all three of Sunderland’s opening three league games.

Boss Poyet confirmed afterwards that Fletcher’s omission was for tactical reasons, rather than the Scottish international missing out through injury.

But the head coach believes that is a testament to the competition now in Sunderland’s ranks and expects Fletcher to react in the right manner.

Poyet said: “It was the hardest decision since the cup final when Jozy (Altidore) was not in.

“That normally only happens in the top teams, when the big players are left out of the squad.

“But apart from the final, like I said, it was very easy to make the bench last season.

“It was tough and I’m sure Fletch will react well and make sure someone else is left off the bench next week.”

Connor Wickham took Fletcher’s place leading the attack and Poyet was impressed by the contribution from the England Under-21 international, who spent the first four games operating in a wide role.

Poyet said: “I think Connor was one of - if not the best - player. He was very good holding the ball up, he was strong, good technically.

“The only thing he was missing was the goal.

“He played there because he deserved to play there, not because of me.

“He’s showed he has the perfect ability to play up front and he’s responded very well.

“He’s a very important player for our future.”

Deadline day signing Ricky Alvarez took Fletcher’s place in the starting XI and Poyet believes it was an ideal baptism of fire for the Argentine international, with Spurs dominating Sunderland for long periods.

“That was a proper wake-up for Ricky Alvarez,” added Poyet.

“If you don’t want to play a game, it’s this one because of the intensity, the ups and downs and the tackles.

“But now he knows what to expect every week.

“I think everything is set up for Ricky for the future and he knows what to expect in the next few games.

“He’s a good technical player and he’s going to have more of the ball than against Spurs.

“I was very impressed with Spurs. They are a very good team.”