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Di Canio hails Sunderland's £6m animal
PAOLO DI CANIO is ready unleash the animal on the Premier League by insisting new £6m striker Jozy Altidore will be a huge success story at Sunderland.
Altidore warmed up for his Stadium of Light debut this weekend by scoring a sensational hat-trick as the United States came from behind to beat Bosnia Herzegovina on Wednesday night.
Di Canio – still pursuing a number of transfer leads - kept an eye on the 23-year-old's performance in the hope the centre-forward would not suffer an injury preventing him from facing Fulham tomorrow on the opening day of the new top-flight campaign.
Altidore's display highlighted all of the strengths which persuaded Sunderland to convince AZ Alkmaar to sell him last month – and now Di Canio thinks he can reproduce such performances in the English top tier.
“I have brought him in and I don’t hope, I am sure he will be a success and with his characteristics he will score many goals,” said the Sunderland manager. “He can play very well for the team but his main part is to score goals and to help the others.
“He is a modern footballer, like you saw for the national team. He can make lovely movements and we expect he will score many goals for us. I don’t know a number, but it won’t be two … maybe 15 or 17.
“He will do it if he uses his energy like he did on Wednesday in the national team. He has desire and pride and I think this environment here will help him. We spent a good amount of money on him, he was not a free transfer, so we expect.”
The first of his two goals for the United States in midweek were typical striker goals, with the second a strong left-foot finish low across goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. The outstanding free-kick which completed his triple showed his class from the dead ball.
Di Canio thinks the bit of business for the striker, who was prolific in the Eredivisie after an unsuccessful year with Hull City, could turn out to be one of the best of the summer.
The Italian said: “We brought in four or five players and a few free agents but three or four specifically we had to spend on. We could have been lucky, gone to south America and got a free agent.
“This is a player who did not have a fantastic experience three years ago at Hull but he was young and in which environment? We don’t know. It wasn’t top level, but he left, grew up and went around Europe.
“He finished last year with a very good goals tally in a different league. But you don’t score those numbers of goals if you are not quality. He has come back and he is the kind of quality I need.
“He is the size I need. He is a modern footballer. He jumps hard and he is an animal. He attacks every space and his first touch is good. He is fantastic finisher and that is a good mixture. We will play good football to help him to score and he is going to have a big part to play this year.”
Di Canio's hopes of further adding to his squad before tomorrow's visit of Fulham are weakening. Deals for Valencia's left-back Aly Cissokho and Juventus forward Fabio Quagliarella remain a work in progress.
Tom Huddlestone's decision to head for Hull rather than wait for Sunderland to push a deal through, though, means a key midfielder is still required. He could yet, though, have to sell another player.
“Someone will join us but I don’t know exactly who?” said Di Canio. “There are a group of players I want, but I can’t choose four because otherwise the chairman (Ellis Short) will kill me.
“He has been very good, I have to mention that. His backing has been very important. He has said 'stay there, make a revolution and trust the people'. We send Simon Mignolet out and spend the money for Emanuele Giaccherini. It wasn’t easy but I’ve told him please make another sacrifice.”
Sunderland did recruit a right-back in time to face Fulham when Czech defender Ondrej Celustka, 24, arrived on a season-long loan from Trabzonspor on Monday.
Di Canio said: “He is a good footballer and he is ready. He is intelligent and his attitude is amazing. He has a lot of communication skills and he speaks very good English having never been here.
“He is a versatile player who can play right or left and is a real athlete. He passes very well and has no worries. He plays with personality and I like him a lot. He is at a good age.”
SUNDERLAND SQUAD NUMBERS
PAOLO DI CANIO has handed out Sunderland's squad numbers for the new season but has overlooked full-back Phil Bardsley.
The right-back, nursing a broken foot, has looked to be on the move all summer and has lost his shirt number. Di Canio has left numbers one, two, three and four vacant.
5 Wes Brown
7 Seb Larsson
8 Craig Gardner
9 Steven Fletcher
10 Connor Wickham
11 Adam Johnson
12 Ondrej Celustka
13 Jordan Pickford
14 Jack Colback
15 David Vaughan
16 John O'Shea
17 Jozy Altidore
18 Mikael Mandron
19 David Moberg Karlsson
20 Keiren Westwood
21 Modibo Diakite
22 El-Hadji Ba
23 Emanuele Giaccherini
24 Carlos Cuellar
25 Vito Mannone
27 Ji Dong-Won
28 Stephane Sessegnon
29 Valentin Roberge
33 Lee Cattermole
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