Sunderland get double boost for big derby

Carlos Cuellar.

Carlos Cuellar.

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CARLOS Cuellar and Danny Graham are both back from injury and ready to face Newcastle United at St James’s Park on Sunday.

The two Sunderland players have responded well to treatment with Cuellar (ankle) and Graham (knee) both involved in training this week.

And new head coach Paolo Di Canio admits it is a boost to have the duo back on the training pitch again.

It was a major surprise when £5million striker Graham appeared on the bench rather than the pitch for Sunderland at Stamford Bridge at the weekend.

But the former Swansea hit-man was only named among the subs for the game against Chelsea because he had hurt his knee in training the previous day, rather than for tactical reasons.

Di Canio told the Echo: “Danny hurt himself on the training ground on Saturday and that is why he did not play in the game.

“But he is fine now and it is good to have him back.”

There may be a question mark, though, over the availability of fellow striker Connor Wickham, who had a fine game at Chelsea, but did not train yesterday.

“I don’t expect a problem with Connor,” said the Italian. “I expect him to be available on Sunday.”

The return of the experienced Cuellar, though, has particularly pleased the new head coach, who admits he had just about given up on the Spanish centre-half when he first took charge of the club.

The 31-year-old last played in the 1-1 draw against Norwich when he went over on his ankle and Di Canio revealed: “When I got here, I had heard he had an injury that could have kept him out of the side for the rest of the season, but he is fully recovered.

“Last week, he did a fantastic job on his rehabilitation and he has joined in with full training this week.

“He has done everything with us – technical, tactical, high intensity, the little games – so that is great for us..

“Both Carlos and Danny completed the whole session.”