Bertschin backs Noble on Sunderland return

ON TARGET ... Ryan Noble.
ON TARGET ... Ryan Noble.
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KEITH Bertschin hopes Ryan Noble’s injury problems are behind him after the striker made a scoring return for Sunderland’s second string.

Noble came off the bench to grab Sunderland’s third in last night’s 6-1 Central League Cup drubbing of neighbours Hartlepool United and was lively in his first outing since returning to full fitness.

The 20-year-old, who made his Premier League bow last season, had been sidelined since July after suffering a second stress fracture to his back within the space of a year, sustained on England duty ahead of the summer’s U20 World Cup.

After Noble’s chance of gaining vital first-team experience during a loan move to Derby County were ruined by injury last season, reserves boss Bertschin is eager for the Millfield-born frontman to enjoy a sustained run in the side.

Bertschin said: “Obviously Ryan has had a real problem with his back and you always worry about back injuries.

“He’s been patient and done what he’s been told. He’s happy to be back, enthusiastic, got himself a goal and could have had another one.

“Hopefully that will be the injury behind him now and he can look to getting back to being match-fit and have some real belief that his back is sorted out.

“He’ll be another great asset for us.”

Meanwhile, Bertschin confirmed Sunderland will make a decision this week on trialist Aristote Guerin-Lokonga, who made his second appearance for the reserves last night.

The Congo-born Jarrow Roofing frontman has spent the last two-and-a-half weeks with Bertschin’s development squad and notched the fourth-minute opener against Pools.

“I just wanted to have one more look,” added Bertschin.

“He’s been enthusiastic and keen and done himself proud really. It was a super finish from him.

“We’ll decide through the week what we’re going to do with the situation.

“He hasn’t done himself any harm so we’ll wait and see.”