Sunderland progressing under Dick Advocaat says Steven Fletcher

Image: Steven Fletcher will be hoping to celebrate when Newcastle visit Stadium of Light

Steven Fletcher is feeling optimistic for the rest of Sunderland's season because of the impact head coach Dick Advocaat has made since his arrival.

Advocaat's first game in charge ended with a 1-0 defeat by West Ham but Scotland striker Fletcher says he can already see the difference he is making.

Sunderland's next Premier League fixture will be one of their biggest of the season, as they host fierce rivals Newcastle in the Wear-Tyne derby on April 5 looking to climb away from their position one point outside the relegation zone.

“It’s been really lively since the new coach has come in; he’s a lively character and he’s brought that into the training sessions," Fletcher told

"He wants us all to give 100 per cent and believes we’ve got the quality to turn our fortunes around and push up the league."

Advocaat replaced Gus Poyet earlier this month with nine games remaining to save the team's top-division status, and Fletcher feels his start to life on Wearside has been a positive one despite the narrow Upton Park reverse.

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“He wants us to play a lot more compact and push forward as a unit, and I think we did that in the last game because we won balls back and created chances," Fletcher added.

“There were plenty of positives to take from the game at West Ham; we’ve got to remain upbeat and stick to the task at hand.

“There’s no better game to turn things around in than the derby and it’s a great first home game for the new coach, so we’re all looking forward to it."

Watch Sunderland take on Newcastle in Dick Advocaat's home debut on Sunday April 5 - coverage starts on Sky Sports 1 at 3:30pm.

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