Phil Parkinson gives positive Dion Sanderson and Elliot Embleton updates ahead of defensive reshuffle

Dion Sanderson could be included in the Sunderland squad for the first time on Tuesday night.

Monday, 26th October 2020, 6:30 pm

The Black Cats travel to Rochdale eager to bounce back from their first defeat of the season against Portsmouth.

They will be without Luke O’Nien, who is suspended after picking up a red card in the 3-1 defeat.

Tom Flanagan is likely to take his place on the left of the back three, with Phil Parkinson confirming that he is available for selection after overcoming a recent ankle problem.

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Elliot Embleton took the next step on his comeback from injury on Monday

O’Nien’s suspension could also allow Wolves youngster Sanderson to take his place in the 18, having had a week to settle into life on Wearside.

“Tom feels fine and Dion has had a little bit more training time with us, so both are available for selection,” Parkinson said.

Parkinson believes that Sanderson has a big role to play this season, but said last week that the player understands he may have to be patient in terms of fighting his way into the starting XI.

"Dion knows [where he stands],” Parkinson said.

“He's come up to Sunderland, watched the Swindon game online. We had a good chat on Monday, he said that we've got good players and a good team.

“He understands that he's got to get himself up to speed.

“He'll be a good addition.”

Sanderson seems likely to compete for a place in the squad with Jack Diamond, who has impressed at wing-back this season.

He was not involved at the Academy of Light on Monday afternoon as Sunderland U23s fought back from 3-1 down to beat Fulham 5-3.

Benji Kimpioka and summer signing Josh Hawkes both scored twice, while centre-back Patrick Almond was also on the scoresheet.

In a significant boost for the club, Elliot Embleton also made his comeback from injury in the game.

The 21-year-old played 45 minutes for Elliott Dickman’s side, and registered an assist with a fine through ball for Hawkes’ opener.

Embleton is likely to need significantly more U23 gametime before he can realistically be considered for senior selection, but Parkinson was thrilled to see him come through unscathed.

“Elliot came through [unscathed] and did well, so I'm really pleased with that,” Parkinson said.