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By Nick Wright
Thursday, January 10, 2013
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has heaped praise on Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher, saying Martin O’Neill’s side would be in major peril without him.
The 25-year-old has hit eight goals for the Black Cats since his £14million arrival from Wolves in the summer and is expected to start when Sunderland host the Hammers at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
The Black Cats’ inconsistent form this season has left them 14th in the Premier League, four points behind West Ham and four points away from the relegation zone.
And Allardyce believes that Fletcher’s goals are worth their weight in gold for the struggling Wearsiders.
“He’s been tremendous,” he said. “You can see where Sunderland would be if he hadn’t scored the goals he has scored.
“I think that his goals are like gold in terms of the results that they’ve given Sunderland this season.
“Without them they would have struggled a bit more than they already have.”
West Ham have lacked such a prolific presence up front this season but expect Andy Carroll to return from injury in the next two weeks and have loaned Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh to help their plight.
Allardyce believes the importance of an in-form striker was shown in Chelsea’s shock 2-0 defeat to Swansea last night, where Michu continued his hot streak in front of goal while Fernando Torres toiled again.
“The importance of a goalscorer is massive and you see that the top end [of the table],” he said.
“You see Chelsea losing yesterday because they didn’t finish their chances off and that man Michu scoring again for Swansea, who’s been the find and the buy of the season.
“So if you’ve got that goalscorer – which Sunderland have and we don’t, but we’re sharing them out in all areas – then it’s a massive bonus for you.”