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Di Canio backs Fletcher to shine

17 May 2013 15:24

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio is expecting big things from striker Steven Fletcher when he returns from injury next season.

The Scot scored 11 goals in 28 Premier League appearances before being sidelined by an ankle ligament injury sustained on international duty in March.

And Di Canio, who succeeded Martin O'Neill at the helm of the Wearside club later that month, is looking forward to working with the prolific 26-year-old.

"First of all, let him recover because he has had this surgery. Then I hope he is going to enjoy working with me. I am happy to work with him, but I hope he will be happy to work with me because he can improve a lot," he said.

"If you understand that, until today, he has played only not to be relegated. He has to become a footballer for a team that wants to finish and establish the club in the top 10 every time.

"I hope he is going to keep on scoring like he has because he scored 11 goals and he is the top scorer.

"Sometimes I tell my strikers, 'under me, you're going to score more goals, probably, but maybe less sometimes. I don't care if you work hard'.

"In League Two, I had a striker score 11 goals, but we finished top. I had four players with 11 goals. There were other strikers in League Two with 28, 29 goals, relegated to the Conference. We have to work together and work so hard for the team's cause, for the club's cause."

Wigan's 4-1 defeat to Arsenal on Tuesday ensured Sunderland's Premier League safety, but the Italian is keen to avoid a similar struggle next season.

"The plan now must be not to arrive at the end of the season with the possibility of going down," Di Canio added.

"In my opinion there is a big chance to build a different future; the potential of this club is amazing. We can, with a professional work ethic, be the team that can give more satisfaction in the future.

"It was the main thing since I signed the contract so the fact that we keep this club up is a big, big achievement.

"We were in real trouble at the moment I signed the contract, in my opinion, so what we have done is an amazing job.

"I’m happy for the chairman, happy for the environment because they gave me a big chance to show my quality."

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Premier League table

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