LEE CATTERMOLE is due to resume full training on Monday and could be in contention for Sunderland’s next Premier League encounter against West Brom.
Influential midfielder Cattermole is yet to play in 2015 after being hampered by groin and knee injuries, albeit fears that the latter problem would require surgery were eased when the 26-year-old saw a specialist last month.
But Cattermole has spent this week running with Sunderland’s physios and providing he suffers no reaction to that increase in activity, he is pencilled in to return to training with his Sunderland team-mates next week.
And while this Sunday’s FA Cup fifth round tie at Bradford City will come too soon for Cattermole, the former Middlesbrough man has a chance of featuring in the crunch visit of the Baggies in nine days time.
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet told the Echo: “This week is the worst week for an injured player in terms of recovery.
“It’s the one where you run up and down, and run up and down.
“But if everything goes all right, then he’ll be training with us on Monday.”
Poyet admits that Cattermole has been a miss during his absence, with that lack of midfield drive particularly telling in Tuesday night’s dire Stadium of Light defeat to QPR.
With fellow midfielders Jack Rodwell and Emanuele Giaccherini on the sidelines too, Poyet has had little chance to introduce fresh legs into the engine room during a hectic run of fixtures.
But Poyet is eager to see Cattermole, Rodwell and Giaccherini back in the fold - with the latter pair likely to return at Bradford this weekend - to have contrasting options that can be used depending on the nature of the game.
“You need different players and different qualities in certain games,” added Poyet.
“Sometimes you need technical players who are going to open up a difficult defence.
“Sometimes you need characters who are going to run about and get the ball back.
“For example, we played well against Burnley, but that was the perfect game for Lee with the way he plays.
“There are certain moments when you miss him.”