Gardner backs Altidore to be a hit at Sunderland

Craig Gardner.
Craig Gardner.

CRAIG GARDNER says he has reassured Jozy Altidore that he can transfer his prolific goal record to the Premier League.

Altidore spurned three good chances in Wednesday’s Barclays Asia Trophy semi-final victory over Spurs, as Sunderland fans got a first glimpse of the £6million summer signing.

The 23-year-old scored 31 goals for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar last season, yet found the net just once during a loan spell in the Premier League at Hull City, when he was still a teenager.

But Gardner is convinced that Altidore will prove a hit for the Black Cats and has told the American international that he will thrive after returning to England as a more polished performer.

Gardner told the Echo: “Jozy’s come in and I had a chat with him and he’s wondering about the pace of the Premier League.

“But I said to him, you’re a great player, just go out there and play your game.

“With the power and pace he’s got, he’ll be fine.

“With the positions he shows he can get into, I’m sure he’ll score a lot of goals for us.”

Gardner says Sunderland are right to be encouraged by their performance against Spurs, despite at times farcical conditions on a waterlogged pitch – a situation which is unlikely to be any better for tomorrow’s Asia Trophy final against Manchester City.

Paolo Di Canio’s side kept their focus despite kick-off being delayed and the game being shortened, with their superior fitness eventually telling against Andre Villas-Boas’ men.

“It does help when you get encouraging performances in pre-season,” added Gardner, expected to continue at right-back against City tomorrow.

“I’m sure there won’t have been many people who would have betted that we’d beat a top four side like Tottenham.

“We went out there and worked our socks off and hopefully we can do the same tomorrow.

“It was obviously difficult in the conditions and we saw that the pitch wasn’t the best when we trained on it the other day.

“But the lads didn’t moan, they just got on with it and it paid off.

“We had a lot of chances and I think in the end, we deserved the win because we outplayed them.”