Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray reveals Everton plan for injured striker

Ellis Simms has suffered a setback in his comeback from injury and is unlikely to feature against Preston North End.

It means that head coach Tony Mowbray is once again without a recognised senior centre forward ahead of a busy week of Championship fixtures.

Simms suffered a toe injury in the early stages of the 3-0 win over Reading and while Mowbray had hoped that the international break would give him enough time to recover, he has not been able to train.

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Sunderland suspect that Simms might have some ligament damage in his big toe, and the 21-year-old will undergo further scans at parent club Everton to determine the next course of action.

Sunderland striker Ellis Simms

That means it is not clear at this stage whether he will be fit to face Blackpool or Swansea City, but it appears highly unlikely.

There is better news on Dennis Cirkin, who returned to training as expected this week.

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On Simms, Mowbray said: “We’d hoped that he might be OK after this international break but that’s not going to be the case. We did say it would depend on how it developed.

"He’s had scans and X-rays, and it might be the case now that Everton want to do that as well. Our diagnosis is that there seems to be some ligament damage on his big toe – it doesn’t look like he’s ready to play for us this weekend.

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“We’ll wait and see what Everton want to do and what their assessment is. Ultimately, it will always be the parent club who guide these decisions.

"It’s his big toe, and I know from 20 years of playing that it can be a sore injury and if it’s affecting you running, it’s very difficult.”

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Sunderland are also monitoring Abdoullah Ba, who suffered a dead leg while on international duty with France U20s.

Mowbray does expect Ba to train in the build up to the visit of Preston North End, and so remains hopeful that he could be able to take his place in the matchday squad after making such a positive impression on debut at Vicarage Road.