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Sunderland have massive chance to beat relegation - Fletcher
Full-time: Cardiff City 2 Sunderland 2
STEVEN FLETCHER believes Sunderland have a ‘massive chance’ of staying in the Premier League after gaining four points from a possible six on the road over Christmas.
The Scotsman scored his first goal since October on Saturday as the Black Cats fought back from 2-0 down at Cardiff City, with Jack Colback scoring the equaliser in the fourth minute of injury time.
And Fletcher, who unsuccessfully fought against the drop while at Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers, feels that Sunderland have got as good a chance as any of staying in the division next season, after picking up an unlikely victory at Everton on Boxing Day.
“Compared to the other two I've been in, this is probably the tightest one,” said Fletcher, whose 83rd minute goal set up a frantic finale at Cardiff City Stadium.
“At Burnley I think we were dead and buried by this time. We've still got a massive chance. We've got a lot of good games coming up so we're looking forward to that.
“Our home form's been good, we've beaten Manchester City and a few other teams, so we've just got to keep it going.”
Fletcher has been off the boil in recent weeks, with Jozy Altidore being preferred in the lone striker role, but the Scotland international feels that the two can play together as evidenced in 45 minutes at Cardiff.
“I've not scored in a while so it was nice to get on the scoresheet and get a few minutes on the pitch,” said Fletcher. “I've not really been playing of late so to get on and get a goal was pleasing to push my claim for a start.
“It was nice to show the gaffer we (Fletcher and Altidore) can play together and hopefully he takes that on board and we can get together on Wednesday.
“That's the first goal with my foot this season, which is nice. I'd not scored since the derby (in late October) so I'm happy to get on the scoresheet. Hopefully there's more to come.
“When you score goals you just want to get out there and play another game. Luckily we've got one on Wednesday (against Villa) so hopefully I can get a start this time and score.”
The point in Cardiff left Sunderland two points from 17th place, with New Years’ Day against Aston Villa an ideal opportunity to get out of the drop zone. Fletcher paid tribute to manager Gus Poyet who he feels has transformed the side’s fortunes.
Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher pulls a goal back to make it 2-1 at Cardiff City on Saturday. In injury-time Jack Colback completed the comeback by scoring an equaliser.
“We were very happy with the win the other day,” Fletcher said. “It gave us a little boost to take into the game but they caught us on the back foot with how quickly they started. We fought hard, though, until the end of the game and I think if there had been two extra minutes left we might have nicked it.
“I think he just got a bit of purpose back into the boys and he wanted us to keep the ball a bit better than we had been doing at times. We gave the ball away a number of times in the first half and they got the goals. In the second half we kept the ball much better and got the two goals.
“It's very tight down there, there's only a few points in it so we're not adrift.
“If we can keep picking up points like we did on Saturday we'll be fine. We've shown that what the gaffer is doing is working.”
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