MARTIN O’Neill has once again hailed the “absolutely splendid” contribution Steven Fletcher has made to Sunderland since his summer move from Wolves.
But while delighted to have seen the Scotsman’s tally of eight goals – “not one unimportant”, he said - surpass the season’s total so far by Carlos Tevez, whose Manchester City side the Black Cats face today, O’Neill has warned his other players they must begin to help Fletcher out on a more regular basis.
“He is scoring very important goals for us and he has been absolutely splendid since he arrived,” said O’Neill. “He has done fantastically well for us and I am delighted for him. I’m not so sure that he’s scored an unimportant goal for us. His contribution has been fantastic so far.
“It’s important we keep him fit and well. He needs a bit of help. John O’Shea said that the other day, but it’s not something we’re not aware of. Of course, that’s important. I didn’t realise he had overtaken Tevez.
“I know he doesn’t start every game for Manchester City but they create so many chances that you would think that any one of their forwards would be, possibly, in double figures by this time. It’s
quite amazing, because they are a really fantastic side and you feel, let’s be fair about it, make many more chances during each game than we would do, simply because of their talent.
“So for Steven to score as many goals as he has done here is pretty exceptional. It is a great achievement.”
By contrast, Ji Dong-Won has struggled to make an impact on Wearside, and O’Neill admits the South Korean striker may be released on loan, once any incoming recruitment during the January transfer window is concluded.
“There have been a number of inquiries about not only Ji, but a number of our players,” he said.