Fletcher fit for Sunderland

Steven Fletcher
Steven Fletcher

STEVEN FLETCHER has emerged unscathed from his injury scare, with the Sunderland striker eager to get back among the goals at Crystal Palace.

Fletcher limped off in last weekend’s defeat to Arsenal after receiving a stamp on the top of his foot, with the Scotland international undergoing x-rays to check if there was any serious damage.

But the 27-year-old, who missed the final two months of last season with an ankle problem, has suffered no lasting effects and is fully fit to keep his place for Monday night’s trip to Selhurst Park.

Fletcher said: “No, it was nothing serious. It was just an impact knock really. I got one away with Scotland too.

“It’s nothing bad that’s going to keep me out on Monday.

“I do feel sharp. I’m working hard in training and doing extra in the gym and stuff to keep my ankle fit.

“I’ve had no problems at all with my ankle which has been good.”

Fletcher has been one of the few crumbs of comfort for Sunderland boss Gus Poyet in the last two games, with the ex-Wolves man continuing to look sharp following the end of his eight-month goal drought against Stoke City earlier this month.

The problem for Fletcher has been the lack of service, with Sunderland failing to create a meaningful opportunity against the Gunners.

But despite conceding the challenge which comes through feeding off scraps, Fletcher insists he is desperate to see his name on the scoresheet again after his brace against the Potters.

He said: “I’ve still got the hunger and I think I showed that when I scored. I want to score goals.

“I’m passionate about it so it comes out. Even when I score on FIFA, I run about celebrating!

“I think most strikers will say that if you’re up top on your own and you don’t get a touch for 2 or 3 minutes, it feels like a lifetime.

“You do drop back just to get a touch and keep your hand in play.

“You end up setting up someone down the line, but then you can’t be in two places at once.

“Obviously when you’re not getting chances, you’re going to be frustrated. But we’ve had hard games, defending a lot and trying to catch them on the break.

“Stoke was probably the most chances we’ve had in a long time and the strikers took them. That shows if we do create them, we can score.”

Back-to-back defeats to Southampton and Arsenal have plunged Sunderland into the bottom three, with Gus Poyet’s side paying the price for individual clangers in both encounters.

But Fletcher is hopeful that Sunderland can stop the rot at a Palace side boasting just a point more than the Black Cats.

“We’ve had a long week with the game not till Monday and we’ve been working hard,” he added.

“I think that helps, just to get back into training with the simple things.

“If you cut out the mistakes in training, then you’ve got a good chance of doing that in games.

“It has been frustrating, but it has for all the players.

“We know we’re better than the results show.

“We had a great result and performance against Stoke, but when you get the last two results, it knocks you back.”