Sunderland boss gives Denver Hume and Niall Huggins updates as he weighs up key selection calls

Denver Hume is set to make his Sunderland comeback in the U23s on Monday night.

Saturday, 25th September 2021, 6:00 am

Should the left-back progress as hoped then he will be in line to make his senior return for the club's opening Papa John's Trophy game at Lincoln City.

The 23-year-old had a difficult summer as he recovered from another serious hamstring injury, and as talks over a new contract stalled.

With that issue now settled, Hume is close to returning as he looks to apply some pressure on Dennis Cirkin in the hunt for regular senior minutes.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Denver Hume is closing in on a Sunderland comeback

Asked for a fitness update on Friday afternoon, head coach Lee Johnson said: "We're looking pretty healthy.

"Denver is coming along pretty nicely and could get some U23 minutes on Monday night [away at Wolves].

"We've then got a game in the Papa John's Trophy at Lincoln City eight days later, and providing he comes through Monday OK he could have some involvement there.

"Arby is doing well and training with us, though we're not pushing him into games just yet."

Johnson also confirmed that Niall Huggins is available for selection when Bolton Wanderers visit the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.

After excelling in the 2-0 Carabao Cup win over Wigan Athletic in midweek, the full back left the pitch in considerable pain.

As hoped, the issue simply proved to be cramp and the 20-year-old was able to return to training on Friday.

It's one of a number of selection dilemmas for Johnson this weekend, after his eight changes for that clash at the DW Stadium yielded a superb performance.

Huggins was one of a number of summer signings to press his claims in the win, and the head coach believes his late arrivals in the transfer window understand why it has been hard to dislodge players who were in place for much of the pre-season programme.

Johnson says he believes he's now in a position where any changes are unlikely to affect his team's ability to carry out the new on-pitch philosophy.

"It is tough but I suppose that's the job and I'd much rather than be in this position," he said.

"I feel like whatever team we put out, we should be able to play our way and do it well.

"Obviously that's not discounting a very good Bolton side, and we know that, but everyone in the squad at the moment is in a good place.

"So whatever team we put out should be very competitive.

"You want and expect that competition within the squad.

"I think the fact that we recruited quite late in trying to get that quality of player, we worked really hard in pre-season and I think the guys that came in know that the other players had really bedded in, in terms of the philosophy and the fitness side of it.

"You look at Alex Pritchard now, for example, pressing from the front etc.

"The team dynamic in the Wigan game was really good and that shows how hard they are working. I'm extremely proud of that."

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Sunderland AFC coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor