Bryan Oviedo’s Sunderland absence explained as Jack Ross discusses the left back battle

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Bryan Oviedo remains some way off a return to the Sunderland first team.

Oviedo has not played any senior football for over a month, when he featured in the 2-0 Checkatrade Trophy win over Manchester City U21’s.

In that time he also saw a potential deadline day move to West Brom fall through.

A series of injuries have prevented a return to action and means that the 28-year-old is not in contention for the visit of Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.

Jack Ross hopes that he will be back in full training next week, but Sunderland’s busy schedule means that the Costa Rican may have to wait for his opportunity.

“He had a calf problem, then he had a knee issue, now he’s got a calf problem again,” Ross said.

“He should be back in full training from the beginning of next week, but we’ve obviously got a bit of a fragmented week with all the travelling.”

Oviedo is one of the highest earners at the club but arguably finds himself third chocie for the left back position.

The season so far has represented a remarkable turnaround for Reece James, who signed a one-year deal in the summer and at one stage looked to be third choice behind Oviedo and Denver Hume.

After a long, difficult injury battle at Wigan Athletic, he has already played 31 times for the Black Cats.

That includes starting the last 11 league games, and 13 of the last 15 in all competitions.

Ross says that is due reward for his consistency but also warned him that competition for his place is growing.

“I think Reece’s performances, he’s deserved to play,” Ross said.

“He’s been consistent, steady. He very rarely goes too high or too low, and he has to be because he’s keeping good players out of the team.

“Denver is back fit, and I thought he was terrific earlier in the season.

“He’s trained really well, played in the bounce game [against Carlisle] the other day and was really good. He’s a player that I like a lot.

“He’s getting closer,” he added.

“Then there’s Adam [Matthews], who can’t get into the team at the moment, he can comfortably play on either side.

“There’s a lot of good players in form at the moment and if you find yourself down the pecking order because of injury or whatever it may be, that’s just the reality of where we are.”