MARTIN O’Neill wants to see Steven Fletcher play out his peak years at Sunderland.
The 25-year-old striker finally signed for Sunderland yesterday – agreeing a four-year deal in the wake of a £12m fee being agreed with the West Midlands club.
And the Black Cats boss believes the Scot can write his name into Wearside folklore in the seasons ahead by improving on his record of almost a goal every other game at Wolves.
Fletcher scored 25 goals in 67 appearances for Wolves and O’Neill is convinced the goals will continue to flow on Wearside if Sunderland get the best out of him.
But he also believes the target-man can be an excellent all-round team player – helping build attacking moves and set up chances for his team-mates.
“I think Steven’s under-rated,” he said.
“I think he’s an improving player. He’s only 25.
“And he’s certainly improved a great deal since being a kid at Hibs.
“I think he was just on the verge of first-team duty when I was in my last year at Celtic.
“I don’t remember a great deal of him from that time but I think he has genuine Premier League experience now.
“He has scored some goals but I also think he can link play now which is important.
“I don’t want to understate things when I say this but I just say that I think he will do really well for us.
Fletcher was set to appear in Sunderland’s squad to face Reading this afternoon and O’Neill, like all Sunderland fans, will be mightily relieved to see him in red and white.
The manager said: “It seems to be a long process but that’s just the way it has gone.
“We’re delighted to finally have him in though.
“I think he’s ideal.
“But I think centre forwards of his type are only ideal if they are getting the service, so it’s vital that we get good service to him.
“He’s had an ankle injury and I think he’s only done 45 minutes in pre-season, so he’s a wee bit like Louis Saha in that sense. But he’s a young player and we might be able to get more out of him quite soon.
“The great thing is he is enthused about being here – if he stays clear of injury I’m sure he’ll do very well for us.”