Sam Allardyce explains why he let Steven Fletcher leave Sunderland's relegation fight

Sam Allardyce is confident that Sunderland have sufficient attacking options for the relegation run-in after sanctioning Steven Fletcher's deadline day departure.
Steven FletcherSteven Fletcher
Steven Fletcher

Fletcher effectively brought the curtain down on his Sunderland career earlier this week when the Scottish international - out-of-contract next summer - agreed a loan switch to Marseille until the end of the season.

The 28-year-old had not appeared for Sunderland in the Premier League during 2016, yet his exit leaves Jermain Defoe and on-loan Trabzonspor man Dame N’Doye as the only orthodox strikers available to Allardyce.

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But with widemen Fabio Borini, Duncan Watmore and £9million January capture Wahbi Khazri all capable of playing in a central role, Allardyce believes there is plenty of strength in depth, despite admitting his surprise at Fletcher’s move to France.

Allardyce said: “I think that with Duncan Watmore, Wahbi Khazri, Dame N’Doye, Jermain Defoe and Fabio Borini, we’ve got more than enough to move and rotate up there.

“The only thing they’ve got to do is score more goals.

“(Fletcher’s move) was surprising, yes. I never expected Marseille to come and take him because we hadn’t had an enquiry off anyone else.

“I didn’t think that he would want to go.

“But his willingness to go and not wanting to hang around here, was one of the reasons I said yes.

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“He hadn’t played as regularly recently as I expected him to.

“So I felt that it was the right decision to let him go to Marseille, rather than keeping him here.”

Prior to Marseille’s approach at the end of the window, Fletcher had been expected to let his Sunderland contract run down and then join Celtic on a Bosman deal in the summer.

Marseille moved for Fletcher to provide cover for Belgium international striker Michy Batshuayi – ironically a player who Sunderland had been keeping tabs on before he penned a new contract with the Ligue 1 outfit at the start of January.

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But with his opportunities under Allardyce becoming increasingly limited, Fletcher says he jumped at the chance to move to France.

Fletcher – who could make his debut in tomorrow night’s clash with PSG – said: “An opportunity presented itself. It was time for me to see something else.

“I love playing football and I wasn’t getting my chance at Sunderland, so I hope here that I can play more.

“I’m very happy to be here.

“I know that in Marseille, there are incredible fans like at Sunderland.

“I’ve seen the pictures on the internet and the atmosphere is fantastic.”