Belfast Telegraph

Fletcher aiming higher after move

Steven Fletcher is relishing the opportunity to hit the goals trail without the fear of a relegation fight hanging over him.

The 25-year-old Scotland international completed a move, understood to be worth £12million, to Sunderland from Wolves on Friday and in the process swapped an annual survival fight for what he and his new manager Martin O'Neill hope will be a push for the upper half of the Barclays Premier League.

Fletcher has spent three seasons to date in the English top flight and in two of them - first with Burnley and then Wolves - has suffered the misery of the drop. Asked how difficult that existence had been, Fletcher said: "It's good and it's bad. Going out and there's pressure on you, some boys play better under pressure, so it was good."

He continued: "But the frustrating thing, coming in having been beaten, was not good, and sitting bottom of the table for the last three or four months wasn't nice either.

And he added with a smile: "Hopefully I can stay in it [the Premier League] this time."

Despite the difficulties experienced by his former clubs, Fletcher himself has prospered in the top flight and has scored 30 league goals in trying circumstances.

That has seen his value rise appreciably, although the fee stipulated by Wolves, who paid Burnley £7million for him during the summer of 2010, did raise a few eyebrows.

That, however, will not weigh heavily on his shoulders.

He said: "No, not at all. I had it at Burnley and at Wolves.

"It was a lot of money for Burnley to spend on me and I did well there, and with Wolves, so if I can do the same here, I'll be happy."

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