Sunderland handed massive fitness boost as Tony Mowbray talks Luke O'Nien
Sunderland host Bristol City at the Stadium of Light this weekend, here are the latest SAFC headlines ahead of the game.
Sunderland team news:
Niall Huggins is back in training at Sunderland but Tony Mowbray has stressed that he will be eased back into action.
The Black Cats are still without Lynden Gooch due to a hip flexor problem, but Mowbray is hopeful that he will be selecting from the same squad this weekend when Bristol City visit the Stadium of Light.
"Niall has been back on the grass with his boots on, but we'll be easing him back in," said Mowbray.
"I saw Lynden today, he has a nice new haircut! He'll be ready when he's ready.
"It was always going to be another couple of weeks in my mind. I always judge when I see them back with their boots on. He's still on a massage bed in the treatment room but fingers crossed it won't be too long. It's not a long-term injury, it will be another couple of weeks I think."
Tony Mowbray message to Luke O’Nien:
Tony Mowbray says he still sees Luke O'Nien as a defender in the long run at Sunderland - though he expects him to be deployed in midfield again between now and the end of the season.
The form of Danny Batth and Dan Ballard since O'Nien's red card at Swansea City, as well as an ACL injury to Corry Evans, have seen the versatile 28-year-old return to a midfield role in recent weeks.
That culminated in his return to the starting XI at QPR on Tuesday night, in an unfamiliar midfield two alongside Alex Pritchard.
"In my mind, Luke is a defender," Mowbray said.
"But as I've said so often, he's a great guy and so versatile, he has a real confidence about what we can do. I've told you that he's telling me how he can cause havoc if he goes up front - score 15 goals a season!
"I've got no fears putting him in midfield because I know what he gives you,” added the Sunderland head coach ahead of the weekend.