Sunderland defender steps up comeback as U23s boost play-off hopes with crucial point
Jake Vokins stepped up his recovery on Monday night as Sunderland U23s drew 0-0 with Stoke City.
Having played 45 minutes last week, the Southampton loanee completed 77 before being replaced by Jake Hackett as he nears a first-team return
Vokins has not featured for Lee Johnson's side since performing well in the 1-0 win at Accrington Stanley in March.
The 21-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 shortly afterwards and was forced to remain on the sidelines after an ECG test raised concerns.
Those were eventually cleared, but Vokins has had to rebuild his fitness and could now be in contention for the matchday squad when Northampton Town visit the Stadium of Light on Sunday lunchtime.
Oliver Younger, Dan Neil and Anthony Patterson also featured in the draw.
On the bench were to trialists from Northampton Town in Tom Scott and Ethan Johnston.
A creditable draw away at the side second in the table has also considerably boosted Sunderland's hopes of qualifying for the play-off campaign.
The point lifted Sunderland to fifth in the Premier League 2 Division 2 table, which as it stands would see them face Stoke City again in the semi final.
The Black Cats sit level on points with Burnley one place below them, but the Clarets have completed their fixture schedule for the season.
Sunderland have one game to play, facing Stoke City again next Monday.
They could still be overtaken by Crystal Palace and Reading, but could themselves pass Middlesbrough and Wolves, who currently sit fourth and third respectively.
Sunderland's form has been superb, with just one defeat in nine games.