ADAM JOHNSON is expected to hand Sunderland a timely injury boost for this weekend’s crunch clash against Burnley.
In-form Johnson was a big miss in last Saturday’s FA Cup bore draw against Fulham after being ruled out with a minor calf problem, but he should be back in the fold for the visit of the fourth bottom Clarets.
The 27-year-old is likely to come straight back into the side, albeit Sunderland boss Gus Poyet is pondering whether to persist with the 3-5-2 formation from the last two games or revert to an orthodox four-man defence.
However, Poyet, who will be without the suspended Jack Rodwell, is sweating over the fitness of both Lee Cattermole and Wes Brown, who were sidelined against Fulham.
Cattermole, who has not featured during 2015, is due to resume full training this week, while Brown is a doubt to face Burnley after missing the Fulham game with a knee problem.
“I would like to say that Adam Johnson will be back, but we’ll have to wait on Wes and see what happens over the next few days,” said Poyet.
Poyet’s decision to replace Johnson with defensive midfielder Liam Bridcutt against Fulham due criticism from supporters, with Sunderland struggling to create chances for front two Jermain Defoe and Steven Fletcher.
But Poyet says he was planning to introduce either Emanuele Giaccherini or Ricky Alvarez from the bench against the Championship outfit, before the sending-off of Rodwell.
“The sending off changed my changes,” added Poyet.
“It changed the whole situation because it was an opportunity to give Giaccherini or Ricky Alvarez a good go in their half when we were going for the win.”
Meanwhile, former Sunderland loanee Ki Sung-Yueng is expected to feature for Swansea in the Black Cats’ trip to South Wales next week.
Midfielder Ki, who spent last season on loan at the Stadium of Light, has helped South Korea reach this weekend’s final of the Asia Cup.
But Ki is due to return from the tournament in time for Sunderland’s clash at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, February 7.
However, the Swans will be without suspended key midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson after they opted against appealing his red card from Saturday’s FA Cup defeat at Championship Blackburn.