CONNOR Wickham and Phil Bardsley could be drafted into Sunderland’s FA Cup side for the trip to Peterborough tomorrow as straight replacements for struggling Nicklas Bendtner and Jack Colback.
Martin O’Neill has revealed Wickham and Bardsley are on the comeback trail from injuries at exactly the same time as Bendtner and Colback have picked up knocks.
And that leaves the door open for straight swaps this weekend – Wickham for Bendtner and Bardsley, pictured right, for Colback.
“It’s by no means certain what we’ll do,” O’Neill said. “Connor and Phil were involved in training on Friday and it’s just a case of seeing how they come along and how they react.
“But they are both making progress and if they come through training okay, then they will definitely be considered for the cup game.”
The manager was a little more coy on the injuries to Bendtner and Colback, simply confirming that both had picked up knocks.
But Colback, who strained himself in the warm-up against Wigan on Tuesday, was limping badly by the end of the game and a couple of times it looked as though he might have to come off altogether.
Bendtner was also struggling late on before being replaced by Ji Dong-won for the last 15 minutes of the 4-1 win.
With O’Neill struggling for bodies, the returns of Wickham and Bardsley would be something of a Godsend.
Wickham has not played since the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford at the beginning of November, when he injured his knee at the start of the game.
Bardsley (left) has been sidelined with a thigh strain since Boxing Day, when he was replaced at half-time by Craig Gardner.
O’Neill accepts he will have to make changes regardless for the Wigan game, but says that he still plans to put out a side this Sunday which will do Sunderland proud.
“The Premier League still has to be the over-riding priority, but we will give it our best shot this weekend against Peterborough,” he said. “They are not a side to be taken lightly.
“We have had them watched every time they have played since the cup draw was made and all the reports on them are good.
“They’re a dangerous side in attack and particularly strong at home, so we cannot afford to underestimate them.”