Sunderland receive defensive boost as Jack Ross provides injury update ahead of Walsall clash

Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan could return to the side against Walsall this weekend.
Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan could return to the side against Walsall this weekend.
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Sunderland defenders Tom Flanagan and Reece James have both returned to training after missing Tuesday's goalless draw at Barnsley.

The pair were both forced off during the Black Cats' bruising trip to Wycombe last weekend, with Flanagan suffering a head injury and James picking up a groin issue.

George Honeyman was also withdrawn at Adams Park with concussion and will serve the second game of his two-game suspension when Sunderland host Walsall this weekend.

The trio have all returned to training though, meaning Flanagan and James could be in contention to face The Saddlers at the Stadium of Light.

"No nothing new," said Ross when asked if his squad had picked up any fresh injuries following the midweek fixture.

"We had a number unavailable (against Barnsley), we've since had Tom Flanagan, Reece and George join back in training.

"Obviously George continues to be ruled out with suspension but we've got Reece and Tom back fit and training."

Flanagan and James will both face competition to get back in the side though, after the Black Cats kept their eleventh clean sheet of the season in the League One at Oakwell.

Jack Baldwin impressed at centre-half against the Tykes while Adam Matthews deputised at left-back in James' absence.

Barnsley were the first side to stop Sunderland scoring in the league this season, yet Ross wasn't concerned by result.

"That hand't been mentioned much until we failed to score," added the Sunderland boss.

"It's sometimes a reflection at how things are looked at here, it was almost taken for granted and then when we fail to score it becomes a big deal.

"To score in that many consecutive league games takes hard work, takes ability, takes endeavour.

"We failed to score in a game against a good team, a team whose home form is outstanding but we still earned something from the game,

"From that side I was proud of them."