Sunderland injury update as Chris Coleman reveals positive news on key player
Chris Coleman has said that Darron Gibson could return ahead of schedule to help Sunderland's relegation fight.
Gibson had found his best form in a Sunderland shirt under Coleman but suffered a groin injury in the 1-0 defeat to Barnsley on New Year's Day.
He was expected to be out for 12 weeks but has taken part in some light training this week.
Coleman will be thrilled to welcome back a player who can offer his side a different dimension on the ball.
He said: "Darron Gibson is well ahead of schedule, he did some training with the physio today and a bit of head tennis, which got him twisting and turning. He looks good so that is a plus.
"We were looking at probably a 12 week injury, he is only at five or six weeks now, but if he can get back two or three weeks ahead of schedule it will help, bearing in mind he was playing very well for us.
"At one point we were without Darron, we were without Catts, and we didn't really have any holding midfielders.
"If we can get him back before the end of the season, he is someone we can use, that's for sure.
"What we have gained with Catts is someone who breaks up play.
"Gibbo is more of a dictator in the sense that he can come and receive the ball in one part of the pitch and then reverse the play," he added.
"He can get you from defending to attacking in one quick switch, and that was working very, very well until he was taken away from us.
"If you're a wing-back or an ultra-attacking winger, he can find you with one quick pass."
Coleman will be without Kazenga LuaLua again for the visit of Middlesbrough, while Ovie Ejaria is a doubt.
Full-back Adam Matthews could return to the side, depending on how his hamstring responds to an intense training session on Thursday.
Coleman said: "Adam Matthews had a real tough session today and I'm hoping he doesn't react badly tomorrow. We'll see how he is tomorrow.
"Ovie is a big doubt unfortunately, and LuaLua is a no. He has a good chance for next weekend."