Jan Kirchhoff to make Sunderland return against Rochdale

Jan Kirchhoff

Jan Kirchhoff

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Jan Kirchhoff will make his long-awaited return to competitive action for Sunderland tomorrow night against Rochdale in the Checkatrade Trophy.

The German midfielder has been out injured since pre-season, when he limped off against Montpellier with a hamstring strain in the penultimate friendly.

He joined in with full training last week and is now set to start the game against Rochdale in the club's first group game of the Checkatrade Trophy at Spotland.

Striker Victor Anichebe, who has signed a deal until the end of the season, could feature although first team coach Robbie Stockdale admits it is doubtful whether he will be involved.

"Jan Kirchhoff will be involved," Stockdale told the Echo.

"We are just waiting on the fitness of a couple.

"There might be one more, we are just waiting on his fitness.

"For us it is perfect, it works with the game not being until the following Monday.

"This week it has worked out quite well for us.

"The players will play tomorrow night, then recovery and have a day off and then Friday all the international boys will be back.

"It gives us a nice lead into the game on Monday night."

When asked about Anichebe, Stockdale said: "Doubtful."

Club record signing Didier NDong is away on international duty with Gabon and won't be involved.

Stockdale added: "We have some extra time due to our next game being on a Monday night and the training group hasn’t been large this week with players on international duty.

"Fingers crossed they return unscathed and the like I said we have an extra couple of days to prepare for the Everton game."

The revamped Football League Trophy, which has suffered from poor attendances, has caused controversy after Premier League Under-23 sides were invited to participate for the first time alongside League One and League Two outfits.

Six of the 16 top flight clubs invited rejected the offer but Sunderland are taking part and they are in Northern Group F with Hartlepool United, Rochdale and Notts County.

Sunderland will have to field six players who are 21 or under in their starting XI against Rochdale - currently bottom of League One - with first-teamers eligible for the remaining positions.