Steven Fletcher: Busy December is just what Sunderland need

Steven Fletcher believes seven matches in December and just what he and his team needs to belatedly find their feet this season

Sunderland's Steven Fletcher
Sunderland's Steven Fletcher

Steven Fletcher thinks a busy December schedule will play into Sunderland’s hands.

The Black Cats’ weekend trip to Aston Villa is their last before seven games in December. The Scotland international thinks playing so many games in a short period of time will allow them to at last gain much-needed momentum this season.

“We know what we need to put right,” said Fletcher, whose side are still looking for their first away win of the season. “I think it will help us that we have so many games coming up in a month.

“The boys are desperate to keep playing, we don’t want to shy away from where we are. We’re looking forward to the busy period, it gives us a chance to put a run together and climb away from the bottom.

“We have a big squad now with all the signings who came in during the summer, so we have a big enough squad to cope with the demands the next month will bring.

“Every player just needs to be 100% and know their chance is going to come with so many games.

“When I first came to the club we had a small squad, but now we have players who have to play reserve games because they just not getting enough games, but we have seven games in a month now and we’re going to need everyone fit and raring to go.”

With two goals in a season interrupted by ankle and shoulder injuries, Fletcher thinks the run of games will help him too.

As well as six Premier League matches, the Black Cats entertain Chelsea in the League Cup quarter-finals.

Fletcher admitted: “My season hasn’t really got going.

“It took me a while to come back from my ankle injury and when I did, I did my shoulder.

“It’s been a stop-start season for me. I just want to get games under my belt.”

Sunderland will have midfielder Lee Cattermole back from suspension at Vila Park and possibly left-back Andrea Dossena too if he has recovered from the thigh injury he suffered when banned.

With Wes Brown also available after his red card at Stoke City was rescinded, coach Gustavo Poyet cannot complain about a lack of options.

Brown’s dismissal at the Britannia Stadium highlighted the misfortune Sunderland are having to wrestle with at the moment albeit that some of it – such as their two own goals at Swansea City and their two red cards at Hull City – has been self-inflicted.

Fletcher added: “The luck is just not with us at the moment.

“Everyone can see that with the sending off and what’s been happening off the pitch, but if we can put that right and do the easier things right that we have been doing then hopefully things will come together.

“It (Brown’s first-half red card) was frustrating. We didn’t have the chance to look at it again so everybody has just taken the ref’s decision and got on with it.

“After the game we did see it back and we’ve known it wasn’t a sending off and so has the ref (Kevin Friend).

“That’s why they’ve rescinded it, but it is still frustrating because we were playing well, but we’ve had that situation for two weeks and we’ve just got on with it. Hopefully, we can keep everyone on the pitch.

“We kept the ball just as well as they did with 11 men.

“They caught us on the counter-attack at the end for the second goal but that was because we were pushing for an equaliser.

“I think it will be a bit easier if we keep 11 men on the pitch.”

Some felt Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic was fortunate not to be red-carded too for a second-half challenge which caught Fletcher in the chest.

Fletcher said: “I didn’t think Begovic’s challenge was malicious. I slipped, I didn’t really feel him hit me to be honest, “

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