Sunderland duo should be fit for West Brom showdown

Wahbi Khazri.
Wahbi Khazri.

Wahbi Khazri and Lamine Kone are both expected to be fit for this weekend’s crunch Stadium of Light visit of West Brom.

January signings Khazri and Kone have remained at the Academy of Light during the international break after pulling out of their respective African Cup of Nations qualifiers with Tunisia and the Ivory Coast respectively last week.

Both suffered knocks during the Tyne-Wear derby, with Khazri sustaining a hamstring problem which forced him off in the second half at St James’s Park.

But it is understood that the injuries are not serious, with both pulling out of international duty as a precaution.

Sunderland do not envisage an issue in either featuring against the Baggies on Saturday, in what is a pivotal encounter for the Black Cats’ hopes of remaining in the Premier League.

Sam Allardyce has enjoyed a relatively injury-free squad over recent weeks, with Duncan Watmore the only long-term absentee on the treatment table after short-term signing Emmanuel Eboue returned from a hamstring tweak in the behind-closed-doors friendly against Middlesbrough last week.

Although the Sunderland boss is sweating on whether the club’s internationals return unscathed, the biggest concern for Allardyce heading into the West Brom visit is the condition of centre-half Younes Kaboul.

French international Kaboul has endured an injury-hit campaign after his £3million summer move from Tottenham, yet has impressed in the two games he has played since returning to action from more than a month on the sidelines with hamstring and then ankle issues.

The 30-year-old did not feature in the Boro friendly, although if he does miss out, Allardyce can call upon the experience of captain John O’Shea as a replacement.

O’Shea wasn’t even on the bench for the Republic of Ireland in their friendly victory over Switzerland on Friday.

But the centre-half is not thought to be injured and has trained fully with Martin O’Neill’s men, who host Slovakia in another friendly tomorrow night.