LOUIS Saha is ready to fill Steven Fletcher’s shoes at former club Fulham this weekend, if Sunderland’s top scorer is sidelined.
Fletcher has been an ever-present for Sunderland since his £12m switch from Wolves, but is a doubt for Sunday’s trip to Craven Cottage after suffering a heavy blow to his calf in last Saturday’s defeat at Everton.
The Scotland striker’s presence has meant summer signing Saha has been forced to wait for his first Sunderland start in the Premier League, although he has made eight appearances from the bench.
But after starting two Capital One Cup games, and enjoying an uninterrupted schedule on the training field, Saha is confident he can make the most of his opportunity if called upon.
Saha told the Gazette: “We’ll see what happens (with Fletcher’s injury).
“I’m working hard every week – that’s what training is for, to make sure everyone is ready when they get their chance.”
Saha, pictured, made his name on these shores with Fulham after his 27 goals in the 2000-01 campaign earned the Cottagers promotion to the Premier League.
The Frenchman went on to notch 53 goals in 100 league starts for the club before moving to Manchester United in a £13m deal.
Now Fulham find themselves as an established top-flight club, who have enjoyed European football – an achievement which Saha believes Sunderland have to emulate.
“When you come from the Championship, you have to make sure you stay in the Premier League, create a base and then build on it,” said the 34-year-old.
“I think Fulham have done great. They’ve played European football and that’s the way forward. Sunderland need to copy that.
“I really enjoyed that time at Fulham – scoring many goals which is something you never forget.
“That was where it really started for me in England, and I’ve had many years in the Premier League since.”
It is the second successive weekend where Saha will face one of his former employers after Sunderland succumbed to a 2-1 loss at Everton last Saturday.
But Saha hopes the Black Cats can draw the positives from their performance at Goodison Park and secure much-needed points against a Fulham outfit who drew 3-3 at Arsenal last Saturday.
“We need to win some games and to do that, we need to score some more goals,” added Saha.
“I thought we created chances and some great players came to confidence again at Everton.
“We weren’t far away from a win or even a draw. But we need to get that confidence up to score a couple of goals. I don’t think we’re far away though.
“It was really disappointing at the end. When you play against a good side, you expect a fight and scoring that goal was a great thing.
“It was great for Adam (Johnson) because I think he’s been doing well.
“But it was sad that the final 15 minutes changed the game.
“It wasn’t like we were playing a bad side. Everton have been a consistent team and very hard to beat, so there were some positives from that.
“But you can see from the Arsenal game that Fulham have got a lot of quality, and it will be massive if we can get some points on Sunday.”