JOZY Altidore admits it was a “huge disappointment” to be left out of the Sunderland squad for the Capital One Cup final.
But the American striker has vowed to put the set-back behind him and battle to earn a recall to the Sunderland starting XI for the relegation run-in.
Altidore had featured in 32 of Sunderland’s 35 games before the Wembley showdown against Manchester City last weekend.
But the 24-year-old paid the ultimate price for a poor display at Arsenal eight days earlier, with Gus Poyet deciding not to include him either in the starting XI or on the bench.
The £6m summer signing says he has not taken the snub personally, and has had to accept Poyet’s decision on the chin.
“To not be able to play in a final like that was a big disappointment for me,” Altidore told mlssoccer.com.
“But the gaffer felt that there were people who deserved to be there more than I did.
“But hey, this is life and I have to move on and get better.
“It’s nothing personal – you can’t look at it that way. I need to get my head down and work hard.”
When asked whether he expected another opportunity before the end of the season, Altidore added: “I would think so, but you have to work for it.
“At Sunderland right now it’s difficult. It’s a difficult team to play for, and we’re not playing as well as anybody at the club would like.
“But we need to put our heads down and keep fighting so I can get back in the team and hopefully get my place on the plane to Brazil (for the summer’s World Cup).”
United States boss Jurgen Klinsmann’s faith in Altidore has not dimmed, with the former AZ Alkmaar man chosen to lead the line in Wednesday night’s friendly defeat to the Ukraine.
And Altidore admits he feels more comfortable on the international stage than at club level at the moment after netting eight times for his country during 2013.
“I feel like the players know my strengths more and it’s where I’m most comfortable, sure,” he said.
“I’ve been faring better with the national team over the past year and I want to keep that going because it means a lot to me to play well for my country.”