Mike Dodds outlines realistic timeframe for Sunderland trio's return - and gives Patrick Roberts update

Mike Dodds has issued an update on a number of Sunderland's currently injured players
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Mike Dodds is hopeful that Corry Evans, Bradley Dack and Aji Alese will soon be back in action for Sunderland, but has warned that none of the trio will be back for this crucial run of three fixtures.

Club captain Corry Evans is back in full training after more than a year on the sidelines with an ACL injury, but is set to play two U21s fixtures before a return to Championship action is considered. As such, he is not likely to be in contention before the international break in March.

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Alese and Dack, meanwhile, have ben training with their first team colleagues but are still a little way off being in contention for selection.

"With Bradley and Aji, the next step is to integrate them into full training," Dodds said.

"At the moment they are in and out of the group depending on what we have planned, we just have to be a bit careful in terms of full contact and things like that. So I'd say they're semi-integrated at the moment.

"With Corry, he is back in full training but he's been out for well over a year. So I think the plan is for him to play a couple of U21 games, I think they are against Manchester City and Newcastle United - and once he's had some minutes in those games we will assess him then. I don't see Corry being in the squad anytime soon but we'll see where he is after those games and if he comes through, he'll be a lot closer to selection."

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Dodds also confirmed that Patrick Roberts is still a few weeks away from returning, with the return from that March international break a realistic target.

"Yeah, Pat is stepping up his rehab but he's not out on the grass as of yet," Dodds said.

"So there's still a few more weeks there, he hasn't really come into my though processes yet but of course, he'll be a huge boost in terms of what we're trying to do."