GUS POYET admits he sympathises with Emanuele Giaccherini after the Italian international’s injury-hit start to the campaign.
Giaccherini remains a major doubt to be involved in today’s visit of Stoke City after continuing to receive treatment this week on an ankle problem.
It is the second injury absence enforced on the 29-year-old in the opening two months of the season after he suffered a groin strain in the penultimate pre-season friendly.
That kept Giaccherini out of the first two games of the campaign, when he was expected to have held down a place in Poyet’s first-choice XI after impressing the Sunderland boss during pre-season.
After recovering from that problem, Giaccherini was handed his first start of the season at Burnley a fortnight ago, but then suffered an ankle injury in the final 20 minutes, which has provided another barrier to his participation.
Poyet told the Echo: “Giaccy is one of the biggest issues I’ve got at the moment. He was so impressive, but that little injury in pre-season put him behind.
“Then he came back so impressive and then got another knock which has put him back again.
“I feel a little bit sorry for him because he should be playing week-in, week-out, but he’s not because of the injury problems.”
Italy boss Antonio Conte will reveal tonight whether Giaccherini’s injury problems have cost him a place in the national team set-up for the Euro 2016 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Malta over the next 10 days.
Giaccherini started both of Italy’s first two games under Conte last month after being left out of the World Cup squad by his predecessor Cesare Prandelli.
But with reports in Italy indicating that Conte is considering handing several players – including Southampton’s Graziano Pelle – their first caps in this set of internationals, Giaccherini may not be risked.
H Midfielder Steven Pienaar is on the verge of a return to the squad for tomorrow’s Premier League trip to face Manchester United after a thigh injury which has sidelined him for a month.
Late fitness checks will be done on defender Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy, who both missed the Europa League match in Krasnodar. Forward Kevin Mirallas is out with a hamstring injury.
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