MICHAEL Turner is over the injury problems which have dogged him for almost a year, according to Sunderland boss Steve Bruce.
Turner was due to make his first appearance of the season in today’s visit of West Bromwich Albion as a like-for-like replacement for Titus Bramble, suspended from all club duties this week after his arrest on Teesside in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Former Hull man Turner has endured a torrid time since injuring knee ligaments in a collision with the goalpost during Sunderland’s 2-2 draw with Everton last November.
Although the 27-year-old returned to the side at the tail end of last season, he was well short of match fitness and eventually suffered a relapse.
Turner returned to make five appearances for the Black Cats during pre-season, but fresh concerns over the condition of his knee saw him left out of the squad for the first three league games.
But Bruce believes Sunderland’s medical team have now found a solution to Turner’s injury woes and the centre-half is ready to return to the rigours of the Premier League.
Bruce’s only concern is Turner’s lack of match fitness, although the route is clear for a sustained run in the side, with Bramble missing and full-back Phil Bardsley serving the third of a four-game ban today.
Bruce told the Echo: “I think it’s time to put Michael in. The one issue with him is he just needs games.
“He’s been out practically 12 months. I know he came back towards the end of last season and he played a bit in pre-season, but it’s not the same as being in the side week-in, week-out.
“Over the last two weeks, though, there’s been signs that he’ll be okay.
“He’s looked more like his normal self and his knee is fine now as well.”
The loss of Bramble coupled with the August departure of Anton Ferdinand has left Sunderland thin on defensive options.
Bruce could have turned to 18-year-old rookie Louis Laing alongside Wes Brown for today’s game or switched John O’Shea from right-back to centre-half.
But Bruce believes it is important for Sunderland to get Turner up and running.
“Michael’s got to be ready with Bardsley suspended and Titus out,” added Bruce.
“I suppose I could put O’Shea in there and move Elmohamady to right-back, but I think putting Michael in is the best option.”