Sunderland injury news: Double boost for Tony Mowbray ahead of Burnley
Dennis Cirkin is hoping that he will be able to play a significant part in Sunderland's Championship run-in as he continues his recovery from concussion.
Cirkin was knocked out in the process of scoring a crucial equaliser away at Millwall in early February, and though he initially returned to action in line with the concussion protocols, he subsequently began to experience some symptoms and so has been absent since the 2-1 defeat to Rotherham.
Head coach Tony Mowbray said Cirkin had not felt right during that game, and the club have understandably taken an ultra-cautious approach since then. Cirkin returned to London to see a specialist late last week and speaking to Frankie Francis and Danny Collins in the club's pre-match show on Saturday, he said that feels he is making progress in his recovery.
Former left-back Collins paid tribute to Cirkin's commitment not just at Millwall but also in playing a crucial role on a big goal at QPR not long after, being on the receiving end of a heavy challenge as he intercepted a pass and set Jack Clarke away to score.
Cirkin said: "I wouldn't change anything, I'm on the mend, I'm feeling good now and we've got a couple of weeks break coming up so hopefully I can be back soon."
Sunderland defender boost for head coach
Niall Huggins boosted his hopes of featuring in Sunderland's first-team before the end of the campaign by beginning his comeback from injury against Leeds United's U21s on Sunday, though Tony Mowbray has already stressed that he won't take any risks with the full back.
Mowbray is a huge admirer of the 22-year-old, both in terms of his attitude off-the-pitch and his dynamic style on it.
So much so, he almost signed the youngster at Blackburn Rovers before he moved to Wearside. Huggins made a major impact before stress fractures brought an early end to his campaign, having impressed off both flanks in the opening weeks of the season.