Paddy McNair admits he is still working his way to full fitness for Sunderland after returning from a groin injury in the New Year’s Day defeat to Barnsley.
The Northern Ireland international has been missing for much of Chris Coleman’s time in charge, but he could now have a pivotal role to play following an injury to Darron Gibson.
Coleman himself admitted he and his staff will have to do everything possible to get the 22-year-old ready for first-team football, with McNair himself hopeful that will see him quickly get back to his best.
“I was out a long time, so then to come back and then get done with a groin after a few games was disappointing,” McNair said.
“I would like to be fitter. I think that will just come with games and hopefully I can get those early in the New Year.”
McNair made a promising return to action after a long-term injury earlier in the campaign, scoring against Bolton in Simon Grayson’s last game as Sunderland boss.
The midfielder has been impressed by Coleman so far and says the team have shown they can bounce back from defeat under his charge.
He said: “He seems great. Since he came in, he has given us a lot of confidence.
“We have won a few games, defended stronger than we were.
“We have to make sure we build from there and on those signs of progress. I am sure we will be fine if we can do that.
“We have bounced back before. We have a good group of lads – we know we have to do again.
“It does feel different these days, but, after coming off the high on Saturday, to then lose at home against Barnsley is hard to take.
“It’s frustrating. We know we can beat anyone in the league, but it’s about getting the confidence going in the league again.
“It does keep happening, but we have to remember we have won a few and that proves what we can do, what we are capable of.
“We have to put this behind us and go to Boro, try to build confidence again from there.
“We go into every game looking to win – we were confident going into the Barnsley game, which is why it is so frustrating. It just wasn’t to be.”