Sunderland to weigh up January loan move for Arbenit Xhemajli as defender steps up recovery

Sunderland could consider a loan move for Arbenit Xhemajli in the latter stages of the January transfer window.

By Phil Smith
Friday, 21st January 2022, 6:00 am

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Xhemajli spent more than a year on the sidelines with a major knee injury but has so far made an unaffected return to action.

Though has made just one senior appearance since his return, he has played a significant amount of U23 games and trained with the first-team group almost interrupted.

He has been an unused substitute for much of the recent League One schedule and Danny Batth's arrival has further increased competition for places.

Sunderland defender Arbenit Xhemajli

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Batth's arrival led to Sunderland sanctioning a departure for Ollie Younger, who has moved to Doncaster Rovers on an 18-month deal.

As it stands Xhemajli is unlikely to be allowed to depart as Johnson does not have enough depth in the squad, but the Kosovan is understandably keen to get back into action on a regular basis and the head coach says that is very much on his radar.

"Arby is one we've got to consider, in terms of what the right path from is," Johnson said.

"In training I'm really happy for him in terms of he's not thinking about his knee now, he's skipping across the ground a lot better, his hips look better, his accelerations and decelerations look a lot better.

"At the same time, we've got Callum Doyle in that position at the moment doing really well and performing consistently to a high quality.

"I think a loan has got to be considered.

"Nothing is off the table with Arby because of that history and his desire to play the games.

"At the same time, we've got to be covered.

"At the moment, with Ollie gone, we're not covered. If we get an injury... when we had Luke O'Nien fit you could almost pencil him in as a fourth centre-back, knowing he would play the majority of his games in midfield.

"So again, everything is fluid.

"We've go to protect number one first and foremost, and that's results for Sunderland."

Batth is expected to come straight into contention for selection when Portsmouth visit the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.

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