SUNDERLAND have delayed the returns of Billy Jones and Emanuele Giaccherini to ensure the pair avoid any injury relapses.
Jones and Giaccherini were due to step up their comebacks by participating in full training for the first time this week after recovering from hamstring and ankle problems respectively.
However, Sunderland’s medical team opted to give the duo an extra intensive week of fitness work – as they did with fit-again South American pair Ricky Alvarez and Sebastian Coates – before introducing them back into the first-team squad.
That will continue next week too, as they will gain little reward from participating in the light training sessions of Gus Poyet’s side, due to the midweek Premier League clash against Manchester City.
The plan now is for Jones – who has been out since October – and Giaccherini – sidelined since September’s stalemate at Burnley – to recommence full training after the trip to Liverpool tomorrow week.
Poyet told the Echo: “The training will be very different next week; very light, although a little bit more for the ones that don’t play.
“They wouldn’t be coming into a group to train properly, so we thought let’s kill them! Run, run, run.
“So, after Liverpool, it will be an easier week for them to join in.
“The problem has been with the three games next week.
“Sometimes, the players start doing all the recovery with the medical department and when they are nearly there, they start joining in with the first-team and doing some fitness afterwards with the fitness coach.
“We decided that we’d prefer that extra week of proper, hard fitness work before they joined us.
“We wanted to make 99 per cent sure that there wasn’t going to be a setback.
“We did that with Coates and Ricky and it’s the plan for Billy and Giaccherini too.”
Poyet admits it would have been useful to have Giaccherini and Jones available for the quick-fire meetings with Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool which are squeezed into the space of eight days.
But the plan now is to have the pair available for the visit of West Ham on December 13.
“It would have been fantastic next week to have a squad and use players in a certain way,” added Poyet.
“But that’s football and we need to cope with it.
“I hope they will be available for West Ham, although it will depend on the numbers and how we’re doing.”