Victor Anichebe has handed David Moyes a much-needed fitness boost after Sunderland were rocked by an injury to Jason Denayer.
Denayer will be assessed by the club’s medical staff but there are fears the centre-half could be out for between two and four weeks after tearing an adductor muscle.
The versatile 21-year-old picked up the problem playing for Belgium’s Under-21 side in Montenegro last Friday, coming off after just 33 minutes of the Under-21 European Championship qualifier.
Denayer joins Jan Kirchhoff, Adnan Januzaj, Lee Cattermole, Sebastian Larsson, Steven Pienaar, Vito Mannone and Fabio Borini on an increasingly lengthy injured list.
But in a welcome boost to Moyes, striker Anichebe is back training after overcoming a groin problem ahead of Saturday’s bottom of the table clash away at Stoke City.
Anichebe joined after deadline day, which meant he missed the usual pre-season preparations and as a result his only appearance to date saw him play the dying minutes of the painful 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace.
Anichebe said: “My thigh and my groin are fine. The first game I came back I wasn’t as ready as I should have been but I was happy to try and help the team if I could.
“It is difficult for me, I haven’t had a pre-season or done the majority of the training like the rest of the boys.
“It isn’t an excuse, it is just a fact.
“These sessions and the work I am doing with the physios are really helping me.
“I feel really good now, it is just about getting games and power into me and hopefully with a combination of first team training games and reserve games, which I am happy to play to get back quicker, I will be fit and ready to help.”
He added: “Over the summer I did a lot of stuff on my own and had a personal trainer too but it is really not the same.
“Even talking to some of my friends - like Yakubu, Peter Odemwingie, Adebayor – it is difficult training on your own, no matter how much you do.
“I was doing three sessions a day.
“You look great but you are not fit football-wise. That is the difficult part. Some times people don’t always understand that. I have realised how hard it is to catch up.”