Fletcher’s fitness lift for Sunderland’s bid to beat drop

Steven Fletcher.
Steven Fletcher.
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STEVEN FLETCHER will play a part in Sunderland’s bid to remain in the Premier League after returning to full training.

Fletcher has missed Sunderland’s last two games with a recurrence of the ankle injury which forced him to undergo surgery on the problem at the end of last season.

There had been concerns that Fletcher would miss Sunderland’s run-in after seeing a specialist in London and then undergoing a second scan to assess the extent of the damage late last week.

But Fletcher has been back in training this week and is now in contention to feature in Sunderland’s final four games – starting with Saturday’s lunchtime clash at Everton.

Fletcher had started each of Advocaat’s first three games at the helm, but he may now have to be content with a place on the bench, with fellow frontman Danny Graham the stand-out figure in last weekend’s win over Southampton.

Graham remains without his first Sunderland goal, yet neither has Fletcher been prolific over recent months, with the 28-year-old drawing a blank since November’s win at Crystal Palace.

Fletcher is one of two fit-again first-teamers potentially returning to the squad for the trip to Goodison Park, with Wes Brown completing 45 minutes for the Under-21s on Monday night.

Brown only returned to full training on Friday after six weeks on the treatment table with a knee injury sustained in Advocaat’s opening game in charge at West Ham.

But with captain John O’Shea a doubt to face the Toffees after coming off against Southampton with a rib injury, plus a mild dose of concussion, Brown may be hastened back into the squad.

South American pair Sebastian Coates and Santiago Vergini are the only other centre-halves available to Advocaat, with the loanees finishing the game together against the Saints.

But with Fletcher and Brown fit-again, Ricky Alvarez and Emanuele Giaccherini are now the only players sidelined for the run-in, with neither expected to feature again this season.