Sunderland duo set for Everton run-out as they edge closer to first team action
Paddy McNair will get a further run-out for Sunderland Under-23s this week as he looks to step up his comeback from a serious knee injury.
McNair, who hasn't featured for the first team since rupturing his cruciate ligament last November, is set to face Everton on Friday at Finch Farm in Premier League 2.
The 22-year-old suffered a set-back in July which meant he missed the start of the season but he is closing in on a welcome first team return and will get further minutes having featured against Hertha Berlin and Arsenal for the Under-23s over the past week.
Boss Simon Grayson has also confirmed striker Josh Maja, who made his comeback from a knee injury in the defeat to Arsenal on Monday, will also feature against Everton.
It means the pair will almost certainly not be involved in the first team squad at Brentford the following day.
Grayson said: "Josh was one of the shining stars of pre-season with his goals, work-rate and quality.
"It was a big blow when we didn’t have him, coupled with some other strikers being out the first month.
"It is nice to have him back and good to see Paddy get 45 minutes on Monday as well.
"Both will be involved on Friday and both will be hopefully ready for the first team very soon."
Grayson's options, especially up front, have been boosted with the return of Duncan Watmore and Lewis Grabban to first team action
On Watmore, Grayson added: "Duncan is a versatile player, he is quick, carries the ball has a fantastic work rate, it is great to have him back.
"We still have to manage him, there are certain days he doesn't train with the group. We have to make sure the load on his knee isn't too much.
"It is nice to have him back available and great to have him back in the group.
"He will only get better, fitter, stronger as the games go by."
Sunderland have a less hectic schedule in October, with no midweek game this week following the 1-1 draw with QPR at the Stadium of Light.
Ahead of the trip to Brentford in the Championship on Saturday, Grayson added: "We picked up a few knocks against QPR, one or two not back in training, but we have had some time to work with the players.
"We have got as much work into the players as we can do.
"We have focused on what we need to do better than we did last Saturday."