Gus Poyet has spoken out in support of struggling Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore.
The striker has been linked with a move away from the Stadium of Light in the past week, with Burnley reportedly interested in acquiring his services.
However, Poyet believes that the American international still has a future on Wearside and says that he is showing better form than he did last year.
Indeed, the Uruguayan wants Altidore to follow in the footsteps of Steven Fletcher and force his way off the bench, with a performance which makes him undroppable.
"Players pick themselves, not me," Poyet said to the Daily Mail. "Look at Fletcher, he was out but then came in and was on fire. For Jozy it is the same. I understand [what he said], because every player wants to play.
"But I think he’s better than last year, he’s calmer, and I think he will score goals. Strikers need goals and if they’re scoring they’re happy."
Altidore has only scored once in 34 Premier League appearances since completing a move to the club in 2013.
Although he has a presence up-front, his finishing ability has been well short of the required quality and he has been a major part of the club's goalscoring problems.
The side have lacked a potent striker for some time and Altidore doesn't appear to have the quality to fill that void. He will be looking to prove his doubters wrong this weekend, though, if he does have the opportunity to play against Southampton.
Although Connor Wickham and Fletcher are likely to be the first-choice pairing up-top, the 24-year-old could play a vital role off the substitutes' bench as the Black Cats look to pick up an unlikely victory.