Sunderland could play behind closed door games next week to get Jan Kirchhoff and squad players match fit

Kirchhoff is inching closer to a return
Kirchhoff is inching closer to a return
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Sunderland boss David Moyes could set up some behind close doors games in the fortnight break following Sunday's clash with Manchester City.

The Black Cats are not in action again until they face Burnley on March 18th and Moyes has a number of players who need match fitness.

The first priority will be getting Jan Kirchhoff back in action; the midfielder has been training for a fortnight but lacking match speed.

The Manchester City game will come too soon for the German but the Sunderland boss is hopeful he will be able to feature for that crucial tie against Sean Dyche's side.

Sunderland U23's are also in action over the break, playing Manchester United on Monday night and Leicester City at the Stadium of Light the following Sunday.

That could present another opportunity to get Kirchhoff much needed minutes.

Moyes said: "Certainly Monday’s a possibility for Jan. We’ve got a few boys who are actually in need of some minutes as well, but obviously because of the injuries we’ve been loathed to give them too many minutes in the reserves, especially this week with this game coming up.

"I’ve got some thoughts for, I might decide to have some behind closed doors games as well if I don’t play them in the U23’s."

Sunderland have a number of players who have been short of match practice, including Joleon Lescott and youngsters George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch and Donald Love.

Moyes also revealed that Jack Rodwell may miss out on the Manchester City clash, having returned to training this week but suffering another setback.

He is in contention but Moyes will assess him again on Saturday.

Steven Pienaar is likely to miss out with a calf injury but Papy Djilobodji is available again after completing a four game FA ban for violent conduct.