Lee Johnson reveals Carl Winchester latest ahead of Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday

Sunderland are hoping that Carl Winchester could return for the clash with Sheffield Wednesday on Thursday night.

The Northern Irishman has been a key figure for the Black Cats this season whether at right back or in midfield, but missed the 3-0 win over Doncaster Rovers on Monday with a calf/achilles problem.

Even if the 28-year-old is not able to return against Darren Moore’s side, then it looks clear that he has avoided a serious issue will be ready for action in the new year.

Lee Johnson said on Wednesday afternoon: “He's steadily improving.

Sunderland boss Lee Johnson

“Whether or not he'll make it for tomorrow is another question - we're giving him any chance.

“We've left him off it [training] as long as possible to let the injury heal, and to give it a lot of therapy.

“I'd probably he is 50/50 for the Sheffield Wednesday game.”

Johnson’s options in midfield were boosted by the return of Corry Evans at Doncaster, and that the strong lead Sunderland established there allowed him to be replaced after an hour of action.

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“It absolutely strengthens us,” Johnson said.

“Obviously the only worry is him going into a second game three days later, but it was nice to be in charge of the game enough that we could take him off after half an hour.

“That will definitely serve us well going into the Sheffield Wednesday game.”

Sunderland are hopeful that the game will proceed as planned, with the Owls having not played since December 11th due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

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Moore’s side have been back in training this week and it is therefore expected that the game will go ahead on schedule.

Sunderland will be without Aiden O’Brien and Ellis Taylor on Thursday night due to positive results, while Johnson confirmed on Monday that Jordan Willis had also tested positive.

Since then Luke O’Nien and Physical Performance Coach Nick Allamby have tested positive, though the latter was not present at Doncaster Rovers.

As it stands, the playing group from that win has not been further affected by COVID.

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Both sets of players will undergo another round of testing ahead of the game, and Johnson says he is pleased that the game is proceeding.

“I'm really pleased the game is on, especially for the fans,” he said.

“It's a really good time to have a big game like this, there's a lot of love back in the room after some good performances, and we'll need that.

“Every supporter will earn this win if we can get it, because we're going to need that energy and extra push in that last 20 minutes in particular.”