CRAIG Gordon is hoping to get the all-clear this week to resume full training.
The Sunderland goalkeeper saw specialists over the weekend and early this week in order to assess the condition of a knee injury which has kept him out of the game for the last 10 months.
And after having several setbacks on the way to recovery he’s hoping that specialists can provide the best way forward.
Manager Martin O’Neill told the Echo: “Craig is going to undergo a number of tests and we’ll see how he is after that.
“He’s been out for a long time and obviously he’s anxious to get back.”
The Scotland number one turns 28 this month and is desperate to put a couple of injury-wrecked seasons behind him.
His previous campaign was marred by a broken wrist sustained when Jermain Defoe ran through him at White Hart Lane in November, 2009 – putting him out of the first-team picture for almost three months.
The same wrist was broken last pre-season, meaning he did not play first-team football until November.
But this latest injury has been his most troublesome, aggravating a knee injury – again against Tottenham – this time at the Stadium of Light in mid-February.
And despite several attempts to close in on a comeback, he has become frustrated at being able to push for selection.
Now he is hoping that medical specialists will be able to analyse the situation and find a way for him to be challenging again in the early stages of Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland reign.
Although the Scot is in the last year of his contract, the £9m signing from Hearts in 2007, still has a chance of a potential future on Wearside if he proves his fitness and form.
Martin O’Neill was a big admirer of the 6ft 4ins stopper and tried to pip Sunderland to his signature, only to fail to raise the funds at Aston Villa needed to match Hearts’ asking price.
He will want to see for himself what Gordon is capable of on his return.
And it should make for a healthy situation for Sunderland if, as hoped, the Scot can return in the New Year.
That would give the manager a choice between Gordon, Simon Mignolet and Keiren Westwood – all of whom have strong cases for being awarded the number one jersey – and O’Neill would relish the prospect of choosing from three keepers of their calibre, when all are fit.