Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

No Special Treatment for Fletcher; Fletcher Is Tipped to Find Form

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

No Special Treatment for Fletcher; Fletcher Is Tipped to Find Form

Article excerpt

CHRIS Coleman has insisted there is no clause in Ashley Fletcher's loan agreement which requires him to start matches.

That a player so low on confidence has kicked off every Sunderland game he has been available has the conspiracy theorists thinking - but the manager insists it is purely down to him.

That said, Coleman freely admits the Middlesbrough player needs a goal as soon as possible "for his own sanity." The Black Cats are desperate for it, too, to end an eight-match winless sequence and compensate for a depleted defence without Tyias Browning for the rest of the season.

"If he plays, that's my choice," the Welshman replied when asked if Fletcher had to start as part of the deal.

"He's low on confidence at the moment. I had a chat with Ashley.

"I thought he did quite well on Tuesday until he had that bad touch when he went through. That affected him, but he has to get over it."

Fletcher has started six games since joining on deadline day.

The only game he sat out was against his parent club, when he was ineligible. Tuesday highlighted where the 22-year-old is.

Turn to Page 56 FROM BACK PAGE Sent clean through in the first half, his heavy touch put the ball out two minutes before Lewis Grabban scored Aston Villa's opening goal.

It was a third in as many games for Grabban, whom Fletcher was signed to replace in January.

Meanwhile Oli McBurnie, an alternative the Black Cats pursued in the transfer window, was scoring his fourth in three matches for relegation rivals Barnsley. Fletcher was substituted in the second half of Sunderland's 3-0 defeat to ironic applause.

Coleman admitted: "He'll be thinking at the minute he's never going to score again.

"He'll be feeling like it's the end of the world, that's what strikers do - but he will score.

"He's 22 and he's going to have a good career. …

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