This is why Southampton's Jake Vokins has been missing as Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson reveals injury latest

Lee Johnson hopes to welcome back three key Sunderland players over the course of an Easter weekend likely to be crucial in the race for automatic promotion.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 2:55 pm
Bailey Wright should return to training next week

Jordan Jones is ready to return to the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury, while Conor McLaughlin is available again after international duty.

Denver Hume could also play some part against Oxford and Peterborough United.

"Jones is in a good place," Johnson said.

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"He’s had three or four days training now, and feels good and looks sharp. He naturally will come back into the squad.

“Denver is not a million miles away. There’s probably a decision to make over the next two games whether we reintroduce him. I’ll have a good chat with him, sometimes it's about [our options] positionally as well.

"Conor will be available. He'll be back in and we'll have a chat about whether he's good to go, whether he comes off the bench or whether he supplements the squad."

Bailey Wright is also edging closer to a return, while Johnson revealed that the club have a dilemma over Tom Flanagan's recovery.

"If all goes to plan, Bailey is probably one week away from training with the players," Johnson said.

"We’ll look to get him in training with the boys next Friday, and at that point, we’ll have to assess what sort of minutes he needs.

“We’ll have to look at the U23s schedule, and we may even arrange a game again so we can control the minutes within that.

“Flanno is a difficult one at the moment. He’s had two separate opinions on a foot injury and they’re both very different, which is very unusual with the specialists being top specialists. We need to know whether we’re going to have a third opinion on that.

“In the meantime, he’s nursing the hamstring, which is going very well. He was out running today, although that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s near a comeback.

“With Flanno, it’s a case of sorting out the foot issue, or deciding to play through the pain and sort out the foot issue in the summer, while nursing the hamstring and making sure that he comes back sharper than he did the last time.”

Johnson also confirmed that Jake Vokins' recent absence has been down to his recovery from COVID-19.

There have been some concerns of an ECG test Vokins underwent in the aftermath of having the virus, though Sunderland are confident there will be no medium to long-term issues.

"Jake was the one who picked up COVID," Johnson said.

"After having a very good game at Accrington away he then started to feel quite poorly.

"Southampton then arranged an ECG and there was a slight flicker on that. He probably just needs a week to settle down.

"The plan is for him to have another one next week and we'll sort of go from there in terms of his return to play protocol.

"I don't think he'll be out long because he looks fine and feels fine, he's frustrated more than anyone because he feels good but it's obviously the right thing to do because it's all so unprecedented.

"We don't think it's a big problem, all his previous ECG's medicals have been good, so we're not panicking. It just makes sense [to take [precautions]."