Mike Dodds handed major injury boost as defender named in Sunderland under-21 team after lay-off

Sunderland and Mike Dodds have been handed an injury boost.
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Sunderland under-21s have named their starting XI to face Leicester City in the Premier League 2 this evening - with plenty of first-team interest.

Sunderland's youth team will face their Leicester counterparts at Eppleton CW this evening with kick-off due at 7pm. The Wearsiders are 13th in the 26-team strong Premier League 2 competition with the Foxes down in 22nd. Eight points separate the two sides coming into the game.

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Aji Alese was named in the starting XI after signing a new contract at the Academy of Light on Friday afternoon. The 23-year-old defender has made just three first-team appearances this season due to injury setbacks but could be available after this month's international break and will play against the Foxes to gain minutes.

Alese's contract on Wearside was set to expire in 2025, yet the player, who arrived from West Ham in 2022, has extended his deal at the Stadium of Light until 2027. Sunderland under-21s also named Corry Evans and Bradley Dack in their starting XI as both continue their injury comebacks.

The Black Cats lost their last fixture 3-2 against rivals Newcastle United at the Academy of Light last Monday with Mason Burstow Dack, Evans, Timothee Pembele and Pierre Ekwah all starting the Wear-Tyne Derby. Sunderland's club captain Evans played 45 before being withdrawn with similar expected against The Foxes.

Sunderland starting XI: Cameron, Bainbridge, Bell, Fieldson, Alese, Evans, Middlemas, Jones (c), Kelly, Watson, Dack

Subs: Chibueze, Lavery, Chiabi, Burke, Ryder