DANNY ROSE will figure in Martin O’Neill’s plans at QPR tomorrow after returning on schedule from his hamstring injury.
Rose pulled up lame in Sunderland’s home defeat to Arsenal last month with a recurrence of the hamstring problem he originally suffered in January’s FA Cup third round tie at Bolton.
During four weeks on the sidelines, the on-loan left-back returned to parent club Tottenham for treatment on the injury, before returning to Wearside this week, where he has trained fully and participated in a practice match.
And Sunderland boss O’Neill says there is no barrier towards Rose being involved against the Premier League’s basement boys tomorrow, in what would represent a major boost to his options.
O’Neill told the Echo: “Danny Rose has done some training and is making good progress, so he should come into contention.
“He did a lot of his recuperation work with Tottenham, but he is now back with us and has trained this week.
“He played in a behind closed doors game, where a lot of the players, I felt, needed some football played against some of our younger lads, and he didn’t feel too bad about it.
“There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be involved this weekend.”
In Rose’s absence, O’Neill has been forced to use two of his central midfielders as makeshift full-backs, with Jack Colback covering on the left and Craig Gardner continuing at right-back.
Phil Bardsley’s season-long struggle with fitness has seen former Birmingham City man Gardner spend the bulk of the campaign at right-back, while Colback offers the most feasible cover at left-back.
And while O’Neill is full of praise for the efforts of both in their temporary roles, he admits that, in the long term, he is eager to have specialists filling both slots.
“Since I’ve been at this football club, we’ve essentially had midfielders playing in full-back positions, which is obviously not ideal,” added O’Neill.
“The injury to Phil Bardsley at the beginning of the season has meant Craig Gardner has had to fill in there and he’s done that admirably, but he’s essentially a midfield player.
“The same goes for Jack Colback on the other side.
“When you have midfielders playing in those sort of positions, it takes some getting used to.
“You inch forward during the game and then realise you should be marking someone at that point.
“But there’s been an excellent contribution so far, considering they’ve been playing out of position.”