Lee Johnson explains the next steps for Jake Vokins after Sunderland return
Jake Vokins has been given the all clear to return to Sunderland training, but remains some way off a return to competitive action.
Vokins has had an enforced absence since delivering the best performance of his loan spell in the 1-0 win over Accrington Stanley in Match.
The left-back contracted COVID-19 and his return was halted when an ECG scan detected a slight flicker on his heart.
Vokins underwent a second scan in Southampton as a precaution and was subsequently given the all clear.
Johnson says that absence means there is work to do in getting the 21-year-old back to full match fitness.
"It's been really frustrating for Jake," Johnson said.
"Because of the virus and his heart, he's not been able to get his heart rate above 60% - we're talking light walk at most, so it's like he's had an enforced off-season.
"He had a really good game against Accrington and put his flag in the sand, so to speak. And then he's had Covid and then the heart murmur, which has now been cleared by the specialists.
"It's a very slow return to build up that heart rate, which again becomes frustrating for him, and effectively he has to go through a pre-season again," Johnson added.
"But he's a fit lad, and his physique means he can adjust quicker to those sorts of dynamic movements. He's in a positive headspace now."
Though Johnson is managing a major injury crisis at the heart of defence, the successful return of Denver Hume means he has options at left-back while Vokins steps up his recovery.