STEVEN FLETCHER’S Achilles injury has been the main reason why the Sunderland striker has struggled to make his mark recently, believes Gus Poyet.
Fletcher has reacted well after returning to training on Wednesday and Sunderland will make a decision today over whether the Scotland international is involved in the squad for tomorrow’s trip to Arsenal.
The Scotland international has netted just three times this season and looked off-the-pace before Sunderland’s medical team decided to give the frontman a fortnight’s rest to see if his injury would settle.
And Poyet believes it is no surprise that Fletcher’s performances had dipped when the problem was preventing the 26-year-old playing a full role on the training field.
“He was not training properly,” the Sunderland boss said.
“There are unique players who can get away with not training and still play at their best level. But most players need to train.
“And after the injury with the shoulder earlier this season, he needed to train.
“If you remember the Southampton game (last month’s 2-2 draw) he was warming up on the bike and not even allowed to run.
“He warmed up in the dressing room during the second half to play in the last 20 minutes, which is not ideal.
“Now he’s been training hard on different surfaces – first in the pool, then on the bike and now on the training field.”
Fletcher’s problem was being caused by swelling putting pressure on the Achilles, rather than any damage to the tendon itself.
But the £12million frontman has responded well to the treatment and Poyet hopes the concerns of the medical staff will be eased on the training field today to allow the former Wolves man to feature at the Emirates.
Fletcher is not fit enough to last the full 90 minutes though and it is likely that if he is involved, it will be from the substitutes bench.
“He’s fit, training and feeling well,” added Poyet.
“We will see today how much we can use him this weekend.
“I would like to think he’ll be in the squad, but the medical staff have said wait and see. He’s desperate to play.
“Over the last two days, he has been outside training properly, running properly and there’s been no reaction which is great.
“He needed that.”