Sunderland boss reveals plan for returning players ahead of Charlton test

Alex Neil has said that he will not rush any of Sunderland’s players back into action before they are fully fit.

Long-term absentees Nathan Broadhead, Luke O’Nien and Aiden McGeady have all been back playing some part in training over the last week, raising hopes that they could play a key part in the bid to secure a top-six spot and promotion from League One through the play-offs.

While Broadhead is expected to be back in the not too distant future, Neil has warned that patience will be required with the trio.

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The Sunderland head coach also said that the club are still assessing Niall Huggins’ progress, as he recovers from a stress fracture of the lower back.

It is not clear at this stage whether the former Leeds United youngster will be able to play any part in the remainder of the season.

"Like with any player, we need to make sure they’re fit, available and ready,” Neil said.

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"What I won’t do is force anybody back until they’ve shown me and themselves that they are ready and capable on the training pitch.

"If you’re talking about those three, some are closer than others because of the what the injury entailed when it happened, and how much work they’ve been able to do since then.

"Out of those three, there’s one that is nowhere near ready, there’s one who is getting there, and there is one that is a lot closer, and I’ll let you decide which is which!

"With Niall, it’s one that is rumbling on at the moment and it’s difficult for me to give a clear answer right now.

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"We’ll see how it goes over the next little period and then I’ll be able to say a bit more.”

Neil said that he was assessing a couple of minor injuries ahead of the trip to Charlton Athletic on Saturday afternoon.

Danny Batth missed the 3-0 win over Wigan Athletic last weekend with an ongoing ankle issue, though Neil was hopeful that it was not serious.

"We're looking pretty good,” Neil said.

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“We've got a couple of niggles but we'll have a look after training today and see where we lie.”