Boss backs frontman Jozy

by Stuart Vose

Poyet intrigued by Altidore-Fletcher strike partnership.

Gus Poyet was delighted to see Jozy Altidore grab his first league goal for the club on Wednesday night.

Sunderland’s head coach says Altidore’s goalscoring potential is clear and was rewarded after handing him a start ahead of Steven Fletcher against Chelsea.

He can be a strong force together with Fletcher so we need to manage and see if we can use them at the same time

- Poyet on Altidore

The 24-year-old responded with a well-taken finish 15 minutes in as the Black Cats suffered a narrow 4-3 home defeat in an absorbing encounter.

The former Alkmaar striker was partnered by substitute Fletcher late on and Poyet says teaming the pair up on a more permanent basis is an intriguing prospect.

“When he came here in the summer everybody was convinced he [Jozy Altidore] would score goals; when I came here I was convinced he would score goals and it was a matter of having the chance and being there and taking it," he said.

“More importantly for us [against Chelsea] he was very strong; he can be a strong force together with Fletcher so we need to manage and see if we can use them at the same time.

“I think that could be very special for us and something difficult for the opposition.”

Altidore got stuck into a bruising battle with Chelsea centre-backs Gary Cahill and John Terry – the latter making his 600th appearance for the club.

And Poyet felt that tussle was indicative of a physically demanding overall encounter played out in the right spirit.

“I think it was a very fair game with a fighting spirit from them and from us - at the end especially when the ball was in the air,” he explained.

“There were players going down clutching their heads and you didn’t know who was fouling who but [it was] fair.

“You have to give credit to both teams.”

Poyet described Wednesday night’s match as an “incredible game of football” and praised his players’ efforts after the game.

The Uruguayan was delighted with his side’s start and is hoping to be quick out of the blocks again on Saturday when Spurs visit the Stadium of Light.

“We need to recover well,” he said. “I think we started very, very well and credit to the players who took their chance and jumped into the team.

“If we can do something similar [on Saturday] without conceding too many that would be fantastic because we need the three points.”