GUS Poyet will leave it late before deciding whether to involve Fabio Borini, Adam Johnson or John O’Shea in tomorrow’s game against Aston Villa.
Injury and illness have made the trio’s availability doubtful.
But the Sunderland head coach was hopeful that today might see big improvements in the health of Borini and Johnson in particular ahead of a New Year’s Day game which could see Sunderland move out of the bottom three if they win it.
Borini opted to start Sunderland’s game at Cardiff on Saturday despite feeling ill beforehand and he paid the price when he was taken seriously ill at half-time and had to be hospitalised.
Johnson did not make the trip to Wales after falling victim to flu and although he has improved he was told to keep away from the training ground yesterday in case he gave the bug to his team-mates.
John O’Shea, meanwhile, is struggling to recover from a shoulder injury sustained against Norwich on Saturday, December 21, which saw him leave the Stadium of Light with his arm in a support. But Poyet says none of the problems appear to be serious and he is hoping for good news.
“Today is an important day,” he told the Echo. “Today I will find out how John, Adam and Fabio are.
“Fabio came back from Cardiff on Sunday, with his family and the doctor after staying down there to do some tests and check him over.
“He had a few more tests yesterday, to make sure it was nothing more than the illness he had going into the Cardiff game.
“Johnno had flu, but he looked a little bit better yesterday.
“We decided not to let him come into training, though, in case he passed it on to anyone else.
“And John O’Shea is getting better.
”We did all the tests, and it was one of the ligaments in his shoulder that was stretched when he fell in the Norwich game but the shoulder didn’t pop out, so it is not long-term.
“It’s not an easy call to make, whether to bring him back, because you don’t want to risk losing him for longer.
Of the three, Borini is regarded as most likely to be involved – especially if the problems he suffered at the weekend prove to be nothing more than a reaction to trying to get through a Premier League game whilst under the weather.
Experienced centre-half Wes Brown will miss tomorrow’s game, as he serves the final game of a three-match ban.
And new loan signing Marcos Alonso will not be eligible for the game, though he could make his debut in the FA Cup tie against Carlisle United this Sunday.