Steven Fletcher thinks Jozy Altidore’s critics are crazy – and reckons every club in the Premier League needs a player like the USA striker.
Altidore is yet to score a Premier League goal for Sunderland, which is fuel to the fire of detractors who remember his barren period with Hull City three years ago - but his goalscoring record barely tells the tale for a player who has endeared himself to supporters and team-mates with his fierce work ethic and unselfish play.
Altidore received the backing of Jurgen Klinsman earlier this week amid fears in the US that their leading marksman is suffering a crisis of confidence.
Klinsmann believes Altidore is benefiting from the patience of Wearsiders and Fletcher agrees, saying his all-round contribution has been noted by supporters. The boot will be on the other foot for Fletcher tonight, as he goes up against Altidore when Scotland take on the US in a Hampden Park friendly.
He is more than aware of the danger posed by the burly forward.
Fletcher said: “He set up both goals against Southampton as well as the winner against Newcastle and there is no way anyone should be complaining. He is a 100 percent committed player every time and the goals will dcome.
“Jozy has settled in really well and he has been doing a fantastic job at the club.
“He is the sort of player who you know every time he goes on the pitch will give everything and that’s the sort of player we need right now.
“In fact, it’s the sort of player every club needs.
“Jozy will want to score a few more goals as all strikers do, but they will come. The important thing is he is contributing and in his last few games he has been one of our best and most consistent players.
“His attitude is first-class and that’s one of the reasons why he has been such a success at both club and international level.
“His goalscoring record for USA is incredible and that shows what a fine player he is.
Fletcher’s Scotland are looking to build on their improvement under Gordon Strachan at Hampden tonight, but the Sunderland striker will be staying out of the way of his team-mate.
He added: “I think I will bounce off Jozy if I go anywhere near him.
“Have you seen the size of the lad? He has done well since he joined the club.
“He has really put himself about on the pitch and his work rate is amazing.
“ I think you have to look at everything he has brought to the club and not look at him purely in terms of goals.”
Meanwhile, as Altidore and Fletcher go head-to-head, boss Gus Poyet has admitted a potential recall for Alfred N’Diaye is being considered.
Poyet is using the international break to weigh up his options and as the Journal revealed earlier this week, a new contract for Jack Colback is near the top of his list of priorities.
Fellow midfielder,N’Diaye could be in line for a recall after impressing while at Eskisehirspor.
He is in the Senegal squad and it is difficult to see why Paolo Di Canio made him available after he finished last season showing signs of improvement.
Poyet said: “I like to have everything on the table – my ideas, my report, what I think about every single player.
“If I think we need to change something, whatever it is, we need to know what it is so they can start looking for it.
“If the option is bringing back someone from loan, then that is easier and sometimes there are players who are not happy and they want to move.”