EMANUELE GIACCHERINI is only fit enough to be used from the bench after being pressed back into action prematurely.
Giaccherini was due to miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury after undergoing surgery in February on a problem which has plagued him throughout the season.
He is still short of fitness to play, but maybe for 10 or 15 minutes he can do somethingDick Advocaat
But the Italian international will be among the substitutes for today’s pivotal relegation fight encounter against Leicester City after participating in full training for the last fortnight.
Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat admits it is still too early for Giaccherini to be involved in first-team action after three months on the treatment table.
Yet with Sunderland thin on the ground due to the injury absences of fellow midfielders Jordi Gomez and Jack Rodwell, Advocaat believes Giaccherini can make a contribution as a substitute.
“Giacchy is back in the squad because we don’t have enough players and the risk is too big to bring in the younger players,” said Advocaat.
“He has the experience, he has trained already for a couple of weeks, he knows the game so it’s a normal decision to bring him back into the squad.
“He is still short of fitness to play, but maybe for 10 or 15 minutes he can do something.”
Giaccherini has been limited to just seven Premier League appearances during an injury-hit second season at the Stadium of Light.
And while Advocaat has only briefly felt that loss during his short-term tenure, he admits it’s tough for any side to lose one of their key performers after the 30-year-old had impressed ex-boss Gus Poyet during pre-season.
“The problem is when you have a small squad, you cannot miss a player like him with his quality,” added Advocaat.
“Those are the kind of players you need in your team, but he has almost been out for the whole season.”
– CHRIS YOUNG