Gustavo Poyet believes Steven Fletcher will find Wednesday’s game at home to Aston Villa “easier” after breaking his goalscoring duck.
The Scot had gone 11 games without scoring for club and country before finding the net in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Cardiff City.
Poyet thinks the whole team will benefit from the end of his barren run and the responsibility for keeping him in the goals is also collective.
The Uruguayan said: I think it’s going to be good for everybody, but Fletcher particularly.
“People have been a little unfair on him because he hadn’t scored.
“I always say we need to give him the opportunities, the team needs to do its bit to give him the chance.
“He had two, one went in, so fantastic. Sometimes we don’t realise how difficult it is.
“It’s going to be an easier game for him now against Villa.”
Fletcher is Sunderland’s only proven goalscorer, which has made his struggles since October’s Wear-Tyne derby all the more damaging. He has looked woefully short of confidence the longer his run has gone on.
Poyet added: “It’s difficult to say (what effect breaking his duck will have), but strikers use the momentum so hopefully this will help him to score more.”
Ever since he took the coach’s job in October, Poyet has spoken enthusiastically about a Fletcher-Jozy Altidore partnership, something the Scot is also enthusiastic about.
“He has goals all over him,” Poyet said of Fletcher. “He can benefit from Jozy playing too, which happened on Saturday (they were paired for the second half) but we’re working on it, I will help him. He needs to do his bit and he’s trying very hard.”
Adam Johnson missed Saturday’s game with illness and Fabio Borini spent the evening in a Cardiff hospital after collapsing in the dressing room at half-time.
Poyet said: “Luckily it wasn’t anything serious.
“We were a bit worried because he was really sick, so the club doctor rightly decided to take him to hospital. It was a virus, or some sickness, no problems.
“He was sick before the game but he wanted to play.
“Sometimes you need to make a decision between the manager and the player and he asked to play.
“We didn’t give him a choice at the time and the doctor checked him twice before taking him to hospital.”