Noble eyes goals after Sunderland return

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RYAN Noble is aiming to get back among the goals for Sunderland Reserves after making a successful return from a long-standing back injury.

But he should not be surprised if hard-pressed Sunderland manager Steve Bruce calls him into the first-team squad over the next few weeks as he looks to improve his extremely limited options up front.

The 19-year-old striker made his first reserve appearance since October last night when he came on as a second-half sub and scored in Sunderland’s 4-0 win over Blackpool’s second string at Eppleton CW.

Now the young forward plans to concentrate on building his form and fitness with the Reserves after recovering from a back injury.

But his return will not have gone unnoticed by Bruce who saw his options up front double overnight.

Up until yesterday evening’s game Sunderland had only one fully-fit striker to call upon – record signing Asamoah Gyan – with Fraizer Campbell, Danny Welbeck and Jordan Cook all sidelined.

But Noble’s availability at least allows the manager to put a player on the bench who is a striker by trade – not a luxury available since last month’s departure of Darren Bent.

Noble, though, is happy just to focus on finding his feet again after an unexpected injury which has ruined a season full of promise.

He told the Echo: “It’s good to be back because it has been a bit of a nightmare, the back injury, with a few setbacks along the way.

“Hopefully though the back problem is cured for good and I can just get on with my football now.

“I had hoped to do well on loan at Derby County earlier this season and they had already told me they would look to extend my loan, but then I got the back injury and had to come home almost straight away.

“I expect it is too late to go on loan again now, which is a shame, but luckily there are still plenty of reserve games and I’m hoping for a bit of a run in them.

“I’m just glad to have got on the scoresheet against Blackpool because a lot of chances fell my way after coming on and it was beginning to look as though I wasn’t going to score with any of them!”