SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Kavanagh set for return, Cunningham out

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago today.

BIG RETURN SO CLOSE FOR KAV:

But reserve run-out comes too quickly for fired-up midfielder

GRAHAM KAVANAGH has been cleared to step-up his comeback, but won’t be risked in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Leeds today.

The Sunderland midfielder has missed four games after cartilage surgery on his left knee and had a scare when he tried to return to training 10 days ago.

He visited his surgeon again this week and was given a clean bill of health, but reckons boss Roy Keane will decide that this weekend’s trip to Hull is too soon for the £500,000 signing from Wigan.

“I got the all-clear from the surgeon on Monday and that was a great relief,” said the 32-year-old.

“I had a few concerns because I tried to train a week ago on Friday and I felt like I had damaged the knee again.

“The surgeon did an examination and was happy with everything. He said I was going to get pains and aches and there was nothing to be worried about.

“If I can get through the next four days in training then I would love to have a chance for the Hull game.

“I’ve no chance for this friendly at Leeds because I’ve not done enough training – I’ve not started twisting and turning on it yet.

“Hopefully by Thursday I’ll be out kicking the ball again and getting more involved. I’m targeting the game this weekend, but, hand on heart, I don’t think the gaffer will consider me and perhaps the game against Cardiff next Tuesday is more realistic.”

Kavanagh has never suffered knee problems before and has been a frustrated spectator.

The former Cardiff, Stoke and Middlesbrough playmaker said: “When you are injured and the lads are getting results, it’s easier because you can concentrate on getting yourself right. But, when the results aren’t going your way, you feel like you are letting the club and the players down whole you’re injured.

“This is my first experience of a knee injury. I’ve been quite lucky, but I’ve had to learn how far I can push things during rehab and what the normal aches and pains are from this type of injury.

“The good thing is that we got an important result against Barnsley at the weekend and that takes a bit of pressure off for everyone.

“We have to go away now and get a result and with a bit of belief I think we can get something at Hull.”

KENNY OUT OF CRUNCH CLASHES:

KENNY CUNNINGHAM is set to miss at least two games after twisting his knee in Sunderland’s 2-0 home win over Barnsley.

The centre-back was hurt when turning awkwardly during the first-half on Saturday and did not re-appear after the break.

His absence could offer on loam Derby defender Lewin Nyatanga the chance to establish himself in the side. He came in at left-back when Cunningham was substituted at the weekend, with Danny Collins switching to centre-back.

There was better news on the injury front today with Steve Caldwell and Stephen Elliott both expected to make their comebacks in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Leeds this afternoon.

Caldwell has not played since damaging his knee ligaments in only the second game of the seasons against Birmingham and is due to start against Leeds .

If all goes well today, the Scot hopes to be available for selection at Hull on Saturday. He said: “Three months is along time to be out and I’m delighted to be training and playing again.

“The knee feels great, I’ve trained all week and my fitness is improving.

Elliott injured ankle ligaments in Sunderland’s 3-0 Championship win at Leeds on September 13 and is set to start on the bench today.

Robbie Elliott, Neill Collins, Arnua and Liam Miller are also expected to play in the friendly.