Sunderland boss Di Canio not willing to risk Steven Fletcher after injury absence

The Scotland international remains a big part of the Italian's first team plans, despite having been unavailable since the manager's arrival at the Stadium of Light
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio will not risk rushing striker Steven Fletcher back to action after his return from injury

The Scotland forward has been unavailable since injuring his ankle while on international duty five months ago, with his absence last season highlighting a lack of striking options at the Stadium of Light.

Di Canio has moved to address those problems during the transfer window with the signing of USA international Jozy Altidore from AZ Alkmaar, but the Italian insisted on Friday that Fletcher is still a big part of his plans - although he is not about to take a risk over the player's fitness until he is 100 per cent ready.

"It's very important he's right," Di Canio told reporters. "If it depends on Steven, he can play now.

"I can understand him but we have to be sensible, we have to be intelligent. In my opinion it's better to take another week after a few months out. To accelerate him too much now would be very, very stupid.

"I tell him 'It's for you, it's for us.'

"I'm very happy. The staff are very happy. He will finally join the group in the next few days and start training. Not full sessions, but practice with the team when we have technical and tactical moments. He can speak with his team-mates again; sometimes we have seen him from 50 yards away."

The Italian is also happy to have concluded the arrival of young Greek winger Charis Mavrias, the 19-year-old having completed his move from Panathinaikos on Thursday.

"He's young – a prospect and a talent," he added. "He's full of energy and he has good quality. I'm very happy because he is more mature than his age. He is a guy whose enthusiasm is infectious – he has a good future."