MATT Kilgallon has returned to the training field after shaking off the injury niggles which hampered Sunderland at the death at Manchester City.
Centre-half Kilgallon (pictured) excelled in last weekend’s 3-3 draw at the Etihad Stadium, in his first start since January after taking the place of on-loan Sotirios Kyrgiakos.
But the 28-year-old was hamstrung by both cramp and an ankle blow in the closing stages against the title challengers, before eventually being forced off in the 81st minute.
Sunderland’s two-goal lead was wiped out within five minutes of Kilgallon’s departure as the Black Cats struggled to adapt at the back.
But Kilgallon, back in the first-team picture under Martin O’Neill after being frozen out under predecessor Steve Bruce, has trained for the last two days.
And with fellow defenders Titus Bramble, John O’Shea and Wes Brown still sidelined, former Leeds and Sheffield United centre-back Kilgallon is set to continue alongside Michael Turner at home to Champions League-chasing Spurs on Saturday (12.45pm).
Black Cats boss O’Neill told the Echo: “Everything was happening to him against Manchester City.
“But he trained yesterday when we did one v ones and two v twos which I don’t think he was overly pleased about!
“It keeps them fit though and he did very well.
“He didn’t want to come off against City, but he had cramp for about five minutes.
“The last thing you want in that situation is to get turned and not be able to get a challenge in.
“It upset our rhythm a little bit when he went off because he’d been doing particularly well. It was disappointing from that point of view.”
O’Neill has a couple of other injury concerns ahead of the Easter double header, as Sunderland face Spurs and then Everton within the space of 48 hours.
Skipper Lee Cattermole, who is carrying a knee ligament problem, will not train again until tomorrow, while striker Fraizer Campbell has been similarly troubled by a knee injury.
“We’ve got a couple of boys who’ll not do much training,” added O’Neill.
“Lee hasn’t been in training so far this week with the knee injury, but by Saturday we hope he’ll be OK.
“In training on Tuesday, Fraizer Campbell stretched himself a little bit, too. I’m not too sure how serious that will be.”