Sunderland upbeat and adapting to Sam Allardyce way, says Steven Fletcher

Steven Fletcher - exclusive interview
Image: Steven Fletcher spoke exclusively to Sky Sports ahead of Sunderland's MNF clash at Crystal Palace

Steven Fletcher says his Sunderland team-mates remain upbeat despite their lowly Premier League position and are adapting to manager Sam Allardyce's methods as they prepare to face Crystal Palace on Monday Night Football.

The Black Cats pulled off a top-flight escape under Dick Advocaat last season but have found themselves right back in a relegation scrap and are currently 19th in the table on six points - four away from safety.

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However, despite a change in manager early on, Fletcher has said that morale has not dipped among the players despite their current poor form.

"The mood has always been good because we've got a great bunch of lads here and we've got a few jokers in the team who keep the boys upbeat," the striker told Sky Sports ahead of the Selhurst Park clash. 

"You need that because we're in a bad league position and we need to get out of it and if the morale is good, then that's half the battle."

Allardyce took charge at the start of October but despite overseeing just one win - albeit against local rivals Newcastle United - Fletcher says the squad is now getting used to a new approach.

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce watches from the sidelines
Image: Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce took over at the start of October

"The new gaffer's putting his ways across and the boys are slowly coming into it," Fletcher added. 

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"I think he's got his own way of playing; we've seen that at the other clubs he's been at and obviously with our last manager it was different.

"With someone new, they come in and want us to play the way they play and every player has to adapt to it. We're working on it in training and in games as well. The matches come thick and fast over Christmas so sometimes you don't have a chance to go over it."

Fletcher has scored three goals in his last two visits to Selhurst Park - including a brace in last season's 3-1 victory - and the Scotland international admits he takes inspiration from 10th-placed Palace, who were sat in the relegation zone when the sides met last season.

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Jamie Redknapp joins Ed Chamberlin to discuss this week's Monday Night Football match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland

"I think if we can get to where Crystal Palace have got to in the Premier League table at the moment, then it would be a fantastic achievement," Fletcher said. "They've got a great squad and a lot of quality individuals so it doesn't surprise me how well they have done this season.

"It was amazing and it's always nice to score for your country. To get a hat trick was great for me and to build up the self-confidence as well and then I came back to Sunderland and got a few goals here as well."

Sunderland's Steven Fletcher (left) celebrates with team-mates after levelling the scores 2-2 in the 50th minute
Image: Fletcher (left) has scored three goals in his last five games for Sunderland

Fletcher has scored three goals in his last five games for Sunderland but insists he is not concerned by speculation linking Allardyce with a January move for Andy Carroll, and remains adamant he can play in a variety of formations.

"It's up to the manager," Fletcher said. "We have a lot of strikers here and a lot of strengths but if he thinks he can bring other options to boost the ranks, then it's down to him.

"I don't really mind what formation we play, if I'm on my own or if I've got a partner with me. As long as I'm playing, I'll be happy. I've played on my own for a few clubs so I'm kind of used to it."

Watch Sunderland take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park live on Monday Night Football. Coverage starts at 7pm on Sky Sports 1 HD.

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