Sunderland forward Duncan Watmore will make his return from a serious knee injury tonight.
Elliott Dickman’s Under-23 side host Middlesbrough in a Premier League 2 game at Eppleton Colliery Welfare, in Hetton, (KO 7pm) with Watmore set to feature.
Watmore, 24, has suffered two serious knee injuries since making his Sunderland debut in 2014, and hasn’t featured for the first team for over a year.
The forward, who has played in a training game at the Academy of Light, will step up his recovery this evening for the Under-23 side in a competitive fixture.
Jack Ross has been patient with Watmore with Sunderland keen not to rush him back into action.
Ahead of the game, Ross said: “He’s scheduled to play in an Under-23 game against Middlesbrough and that will be another significant step forward for him.
“Thereafter the U23s have another two games after that and the Checkatrade will then be around that time.
“He’ll play against Middlesbrough and that’ll be a big step forward for him.”
The 24-year-old is desperate to get back playing and Ross believes he’ll be a great fit in the manager’s system, with Sunderland pushing for promotion.
Ross added: “He’s been out a long time, he’s missed playing. I think he also likes the way we play and thinks he can be an asset within that. He’s very positive and I think appreciates the patience we’ve had.”
* We’ll have a live blog from tonight’s game at www.sunderlandecho.com