ASAMOAH Gyan and Anton Ferdinand could make a shock return to the fold for Sunderland’s final-day trip to relegated West Ham.
The pair have been laid low by hamstring injuries which were expected to rule them out for the rest of the season.
But Ghana striker Gyan and centre-half Ferdinand both came through training unscathed yesterday and they will be involved at Upton Park on Sunday (4pm kick-off) if they avoid a relapse.
Boss Steve Bruce said: “Gyan and Ferdinand trained yesterday and we will see how they are.
“Of course, if there is any risk then I won’t play them because I don’t want them injured all summer. I’ll just wait and see how they do in training over the next few days and then make a decision.”
Ferdinand is the only one of the pair who has a chance of starting after producing arguably his best performance of the season in Sunderland’s win at Bolton a fortnight ago.
The 26-year-old tweaked his hamstring during the game and then broke down again in training four days later.
But if he is passed fit to face his former club, it would be a major boost to Bruce’s defensive options, with Nedum Onuoha likely to revert to right-back while Ahmed Elmohamady moves into midfield.
Gyan will be on the bench at best after a month out since straining his hamstring in the crucial home victory over Wigan.
But his presence would at least put a recognised senior striker at Bruce’s disposal, with Danny Welbeck still out also after injuring his hamstring against Wigan.
Welbeck remains on the treatment table, as does the rest of Sunderland’s injury list of Craig Gordon, Marcos Angeleri, Michael Turner, Titus Bramble, David Meyler, Fraizer Campbell (all knee injuries), Kieran Richardson (broken leg) and Lee Cattermole (back).
Bruce added: “I’m sure the supporters are fed up of me talking about injuries – I know I am fed up of talking about them – and we just have to deal with the situation. I’m bored of saying the same thing, which is that we haven’t been able to cope with nine or 10 first-team players missing.
“But I think you could say a similar thing about most clubs in this division – if you took nine or 10 players out of Aston Villa’s side, or Bolton’s or Everton’s, they would struggle, too.
“We’ve gone into a lot of games with our squad players.
“When we have everyone fit, I believe we are a better side than Wolves, West Brom and Fulham – but not when we are down to our squad players.”