Kyle Lafferty and Will Grigg strengthen Sunderland selection claims in practice match

Phil Parkinson says Kyle Lafferty is ready to make his first Sunderland start after taking part in a practice game behind-closer-doors this week.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 4:00 pm

Lafferty played 45 minutes on Tuesday after coming on at half-time at Fratton Park last weekend.

Charlie Wyke had been brought off at the interval due to a shoulder injury, and though the injury is far less serious than Sunderland had initially feared, he remains a doubt for the visit of Ipswich Town on Saturday.

That leaves Will Grigg in line for a potential return to the squad, having scored in the same game.

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Kyle Lafferty is pushing for his first Sunderland start

Parkinson has insisted that he still has a role to play for the club, despite acknowledging in January that there was a possibility he could leave.

“Kyle played 45 minutes at Portsmouth and had another 45-minute practice game on Tuesday as well,” Parkinson said.

“Griggy played in that as well, scored a goal and did well.

“Charlie’s injury has got better as the week has gone.

“We were concerned earlier in the week and it was a heavy fall, but he has got better as the week has gone on.

“We’ve got other options and we’ll weigh those up.”

Josh Scowen is also pushing for his first start, though Declan John and Antoine Semenyo are still short of full match fitness.

“Josh has obviously been in and around the QPR team so it was just a case of getting him integrated,” Parkinson said.

“He obviously came in prior to the Tranmere game and then we’ve travelled down to Portsmouth, so he had very little training time.

“This is the first week really he’s had to train with us.

“Antoine and Declan need a bit of work, but obviously they’ve been in and around the first team and training [at their parent clubs].

“When you get caught in that substitute role, you do fall a little bit behind on match fitness but most signings in January have that.”

Elliot Embleton remains some way off a reutrn to match action as he continues to recover from a hamstring problem.

The talented youngster is yet to rejoin full training.