Tony Mowbray issues encouraging update on Sunderland's longer-term injuries

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Tony Mowbray is hopeful that Aji Alese will be close to a Sunderland comeback following the upcoming international break.

Alese has not yet featured for Sunderland this season after suffering a recurrence of a serious thigh injury in the play-off semi final second leg at Luton Town.

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The Sunderland head coach has said that Alese is now closing in on a return to full training, though he will need some game time in the U21 side before he can realistically compete for his first-team place.

Mowbray also confirmed that summer addition Timothée Pembélé could return to full training at some stage after the upcoming international break.

Both Elliot Embleton and Jay Matete are a way off making their returns, with Embleton still on loan at Derby County though he continues his rehab on Wearside.

Mowbray remains hopeful that Matete could be back in action for the festive period, which has always been the aim after his pre-season injury.

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"Aji Alese is probably two or three weeks away from being back in full training and competing [for a place]," Mowbray said.

"He's probably going to need some game time with the U21s first.

"Timothée Pembélé is not too dissimilar in terms of the timescale, maybe three or four weeks [before he's back in full training].

"With Embo, we're not too sure in terms of the time. He gets a little way down the line and has a little setback, and then he pushes on again. So that's not one where I'd really want to put a timescale on it.

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"Jay is progressing. He gets on the grass for four or five days on the bounce and then you don't see him for a little bit, whether that's because a little something just flares up every now and then I'm not sure. But I'd suggest that within the next month or so, he'll be back training with the group and then he can try and force his way into the side."

Mowbray confirmed last week that Corry Evans is highly unlikely to return from an ACL injury before the new year.