Roy Hodgson believes David Healy can still make an impact in the Premier League – despite allowing him to leave Fulham.
Northern Ireland striker Healy joined Saturday’s opponents Sunderland for £1.2million over the summer after spending much of his time at Craven Cottage on the bench.
The 28-year-old has a prolific international record of 34 goals in 64 games that he failed to emulate at Fulham.
Hodgson believes Healy’s difficulty transferring that success is due to the level of competition in the Premiership but insists regular first team football could spark a change in fortune.
“It’s a slightly different game international football to Premiership football,” he said. “The Premier League has an intensity that very few international matches can match up to. It wasn’t easy for him to come into the team last season. We were struggling, battling for our lives.
“Perhaps he needs to be in a situation where it’s more stable and maybe Sunderland is able to give him that this year. His international goalscoring record is very good and if he starts scoring then there’s no reason he can’t do that in the Premier League.
“He’s a very good finisher and he knows how to score goals. He knows where the goal is and he can finish. Strikers need the confidence of their coach and need to know that if they have a bad game, they won’t be put on the bench next week. David didn’t get it here and I can only hope he gets it at Sunderland.”
Hodgson has no qualms over offloading Healy to a club that could potentially be fighting against Fulham for survival.
“I’m not worried about him scoring for a rival. You can’t hoard players and stop them from moving on simply because you’re afraid they’ll do something at that club which can cause you a problem. It may work the other way – we may need Sunderland to do us a favour one day with David scoring the goal.”
Successive victories over Arsenal and Bolton left Fulham in rude health by mid September but they have since slipped to three Premiership defeats.
Hodgson has not lost four league games in a row since taking over at Craven Cottage last December and he is anxious to halt the slide.
“It does seem like a long time since we won, especially because of the international break. We have to accept where we are. All teams like ourselves go through a period where a few bad results go back to back. We have to end the run and make sure we don’t have a similar run later in the year. We have to be stoic and get on with it. We’re unhappy but must keep believing in the work we’re doing. It worked last year when we saved ourselves miraculously.”
Striker Andy Johnson is available against Sunderland after completing a one-match suspension.