Steven Fletcher feels there will be less pressure on him to score goals in Paolo Di Canio’s reshaped Sunderland.
At times last season if Fletcher did not find the net, the Black Cats did not.
It was mid-November before another Sunderland player scored a Premier League goal last season, and the ankle injury which cut short the Scot’s campaign was a major blow.
But with Fabio Borini replacing the far-from prolific Stephane Sessegnon, Jozy Altidore bolstering the frontline and Emanuele Giaccherini capable of contributing goals from a wide position, Fletcher does not think his side will have similar problems in 2013-14.
“We can get goals from everywhere,” he insisted, having marked his first-team return with a goal at Crystal Palace. “Every team needs goals and if I can bring that then hopefully I will. But we have other players in the team who can score too.”
Whether Fletcher’s optimism will be borne out remains to be seen. In half a game he is already Sunderland’s joint top Premier League goalscorer at this early stage of the season, alongside Giaccherini. Altidore and the on-loan Borini have a goal each in England’s top flight from their spells with Hull City and Liverpool respectively.
Fletcher has been out since March with ankle ligament damage, and Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has decided not to rush him back for this week’s World Cup qualifiers against Belgium and Macedonia.
Fletcher is hoping to put the time to good use to accelerate his recovery ahead of the visit of Arsenal a week tomorrow.
“I trained three times with the team before the Crystal Palace game and now I’ve had 45 minutes so that’s helped me a lot,” he reflected. “It’s brought me on a good couple of days.
“Now I can get a good few training sessions under my belt and hopefully I’ll be ready for the next game.”
Fletcher admitted he had to twist coach Paolo Di Canio’s arm to bring him back so early, putting him on the bench for the League Cup tie at home to Milton Keynes Dons.
“Yeah, it was a bad injury,” said Fletcher. “I don’t think the gaffer wanted to bring me back as quick as he has but when he’s put me in training I’ve obviously wanted to impress and I’ve impressed him enough to put me on the bench so I’m happy with that.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung believes he has found a coach who believes in him after leaving Swansea City shortly before the deadline. The 24-year-old is hoping to make his Sunderland debut against the Gunners after joining on a season-long loan hours before the trip to Palace.
Michael Laudrup took Ki to Swansea from Celtic 12 months ago, but his frustration at a lack of early-season opportunities helped persuade him to move north, as well as Di Canio’s faith in him.
“He has done interviews about me which gives me a lot of confidence,” Ki told his new club’s official website. “Also when I was a kid, I saw him playing so I’m really looking forward to working with the great manager in this team.
“I did well I think last season, we won the (League) Cup, and then we did well in the league but I want to play some games, I want to show my quality to people but I did not get my chance this year.
“So I had to move to the club who really need me, need my quality.
“There’s always pressure for the new boys but I have to overcome that and I have to show why I am here, that is the main thing I have to do.”