Sunderland boss gives Dennis Cirkin, Aji Alese, Eliezer Mayenda and Timothée Pembélé injury updates

Tony Mowbray has delivered a mixed verdict on the progress of some of Sunderland's longer-term injuries

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Tony Mowbray is confident that both Dennis Cirkin and Eliezer Mayenda are close to returning to Championship action, but admits that both Aji Alese and Timothée Pembélé are facing longer absences.

Neither are serious issues, but could keep the pair out of first-team action until the next international break.

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Cirkin and Mayenda are both now back in full training, and could step up their comebacks with an appearance in the U21s next week.

"Dennis is on the training pitch," Mowbray said.

"He started earlier in the week doing bits of the team session and then doing some work on his own, and has been steadily increasing from there.

"We're managing him at the moment, ideally we'd get an U21 fixture in for him. He's feeling pretty positive and he's training well, he just isn't quite as sharp as he would want to be just yet.

"Eliezer I've talked about before, he's a real talent. He's exceptionally, sharp, direct and is going to catch the eye and upset a few players on the pitch I think. I'm hoping that he'll be able to play part of the U21s game on Monday, we're playing Hibs I think, because now he just needs to get his boots on and play some football.

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"I'm not going to stick him on the bench before he's even kicked a ball, we have to do it properly with him and keep building him up. But he is not far away now."

Pembélé was almost ready to compete for his debut after undergoing an individual fitness programme following his deadline-day switch from PSG, but Mowbray is encouraged that when ready he can make a significant impact.

"Aji was out training with us and was just about back in the groove, but had to come out of a session the other day because he felt something in his thigh." Mowbray said.

"It's been scanned and there is a slight bit of damage, but there is nothing major. It just means he'll be out for another week or two while he picks up a bit of treatment, and we have to be really careful with Aji. He played for us in that Luton game because we were so lacking that physicality, but it damaged his thigh pretty badly.

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"We have to be mindful of not rushing him back. He was almost there, he just felt a little tweak but that is very common in these scenarios. A couple of weeks, and I'm pretty sure Aji will be back.

"Timothée was training well but he's going to be at least four weeks away. I'm no physio but it seems as if there is a difference to the intensity of the training here and we've seen it with other players whereby they find it difficult to adjust.

"So I think he's going to be a few weeks, which is a shame because he was training and looking very athletic and talented. He's picked up another injury but maybe sometime after the next international break, we'll have to wait and see. I'd suggest it's just a process for him of acclimatising."

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